Florida Politics: Business as usual.

TruckUp in Tallahassee on September 12, 2014, the Florida Commission on Ethics had a busy session dismissing complaints against allegedly dirty politicians, as reported in its Press Release yesterday.

In Wellington, a complaint was filed against Vice Mayor John Greene, claiming that “he solicited a gift from a lobbyist, failed to report prohibited gifts, traded council votes for those gifts, knew or should have known the gifts were given to influence his vote, misused his position with regard to the gifts and had a voting conflict when he voted in May and July 2012 on matters related to his special private gain or loss.”

According to the Palm Beach Post Blog, the complaint was denied “because the board couldn’t determine whether Greene knew the donor was a lobbyist.”

In Ethics Commission-speak, obviously ignorance is an excuse for the law.

The Tampa Tribune reported that in Plant City, “Commissioner Billy Keel tried to use his influence to silence a key witness in a city investigation of then-Police Chief Steve Singletary.”

In a twisted story involving sex, texting and witness tampering, the Commissioner was accused of violating “state ethics laws when he asked a mutual friend to text Melissa Hardwick, who had an 18-month affair” with the Chief, by letting her know that she could refuse to cooperate with an on-going investigation involving the Chief, who was fired “not for the affair but because he spent time with Hardwick when he should have been working.”

I told you it was a twisted story.  Go read the article for all the lurid details.

And finally, in Jacksonville, the Florida Times-Union reported that “The Florida Commission on Ethics has dismissed complaints against Mayor Alvin Brown and a Clay County School Board member, but state Rep. Reggie Fullwood ended up with a mark against him because he failed to fill out all the information in a financial disclosure form.”

The Mayor got a pass for not reporting gifts as “gifts” because he was acting on legal advice from city lawyers.

Clay County School Board member Carol Studdard and Attorney Bruce Bickener escaped being charged with Sunshine Law violations due to “a lack of legal sufficiency” in the complaint.

In a Stop-The-Presses Moment, State Rep. Reggie Fullwood, who obviously did not have a barrister on his team, actually got smacked for not listing “the names and addresses of creditors for a piece of real estate and a Chevrolet Tahoe he listed on a 2011 financial disclosure form.”

FOR SHAME!

But, as Abraham Lincoln was once quoted, “He who represents himself has a fool for a client.”

Taking its cue from Let ’em Go Joe Centorino’s Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics and Public Trust, apparently the state’s Commission on Ethics has also adopted the phrase, “No Probable Cause,” as its motto.

Considering how many public officials continue to get a pass for allegedly unethical behavior, is anyone surprised that politics in Florida is such a lucrative business?

It’s a bigger shock when any politician is held accountable for anything.

In answer to North Miami resident Ellen Abramson’s famous question, “WHERE ARE THE AUTHORITIES?”

They are obviously NOT in Tallahassee, either.

Stephanie Kienzle
“Spreading the Wealth”

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