Melbourne City leaders considering joining lawsuit over financial disclosure law

MELBOURNE, Fla. - The city of Melbourne is considering joining a lawsuit over the new state law requiring local elected officials to complete Form 6 - a detailed financial disclosure form.

For weeks, Fox 35 has reported on resignation after resignation by city leaders upset about Form 6.

It's estimated over 100 elected officials from across Florida have resigned or won't seek re-election because of the form.

As of Thursday, at least 5 cities or towns across Central Florida have been impacted. This includes Daytona Beach Shores, Dunnellon, the Town of Indialantic, Orange City, and the Town of Reddick.

During January's city council meeting, Melbourne city leaders started talks about joining a lawsuit over Form 6.

Vice Mayor Yvonne Minus confirmed city councilors will vote next week to join at least 22 other municipalities and 47 elected officials in a lawsuit against the Florida Commission on Ethics about the issue.

City leaders have always had to complete a financial disclosure form. In the past, it was Form 1.

State law now requires them to complete Form 6. The document asks for a list of every item they own that's valued at a thousand dollars or more.

The state says it's about transparency. Attorney Jamie Cole who is filing the lawsuit says this is an invasion of privacy.

"It's an extremely intrusive look and requirement of financial disclosure that's unnecessary to fight corruption and fight against conflict on interest," said Cole.

During January's meeting, District 2 City Councilor Mark LaRusso also agreed to serve as the elected official to represent the city in the lawsuit.

"I'm sorry, my life is not that open of a book," said LaRusso, "I don't believe any of yours are either."

If approved next week, the city will pay $10,000 to join the lawsuit. Minus says councilors will have to discuss where it will come out of the budget.

"Discussed unanimously to bring it forward to support our fellow constituent leading this," said Minus.

The Town of Indialantic said it will discuss joining the lawsuit at its town meeting next week as well.

If the lawsuit is successful, the municipalities will get reimbursed.

Cole says he plans to file the lawsuit and an injunction about Form 6 next week.