Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs is rolling out new rules to crack down on texting by county commissioners.
"I think all of our commissioners have agreed it shouldn't be happening, it shouldn't have happened, and I think the easiest way to do this is to ban it all together, texting is not the right way to lobby," Jacobs said.
The rules would prohibit commissioners from lobbying via both text message and voicemail. Commissioners would also be banned from using personal phones and email accounts to conduct county business. In addition, lobbyists are being asked to log any lobbying interaction with commissioners including phone calls within 7 days of the conversation.
"If a lobbyist wants to lobby, if their purpose is to try and influence a vote of the county commissioner, then they should not do it via texting period," Jacobs said.
The texting rules come after commissioners came under fire for allegedly texting with lobbyists during the controversial hearings discussing guaranteed sick pay for Orange County workers.
"Do we all make mistakes? Somewhere along the long, of course, what do you do with those mistakes? I'm asking our board to step up and adopt the highest polices in the state of Florida, probably the country," Jacob said.
Not all county commissioners currently have cell phones that are owned by the county to conduct official business, but Jacobs says commissioners have agreed to begin using them in the name of transparency.
The proposed texting rules will be discussed by county commissioners at their January 15th meeting.