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Posted on July 17, 2017
Tallahassee Reports recently published a story about a $4,700 discount on a catering bill from the Edison restaurant given to a family member of Tallahassee City Manager Rick Fernandez. The Edison restaurant, which was partly developed with city funds, has a contract with the City of Tallahassee to lease the old electric building in Cascades Park.
Subsequently, an anonymous complaint was filed with the City of Tallahassee Independent Ethics Board. The complaint alleged that Mr. Fernandez received an “improper gift” from a vendor.
On Tuesday, during the monthly meeting of the Ethics Board, the Ethics Officer, Julie Meadows-Keefe, will recommend that the complaint be dismissed.
In the agenda item, Ms. Meadows-Keefe writes that she reviewed the complaint, related documents and spoke with Mr. Fernandez. Based on this investigation, she concludes that there was “no violation of the City Ethics Code.” See document below.
However, Tallahassee Reports has been told concerned citizens will ask the Ethics Board to refer the complaint to the Florida Commission on Ethics.
The Florida Commission on Ethics enforces Chapter 112 of the Florida Statutes which regulates the actions of public officials and government employees. Chapter 112 addresses prohibited relationships with reporting individuals and vendors.
The statutes define a vendor as a business entity doing business directly with an agency, such as renting, leasing, or selling any realty, goods, or services.
The statute addresses gifts from vendors:
“A reporting individual or procurement employee is prohibited from soliciting any gift from a vendor doing business with the reporting individual’s or procurement employee’s agency….., where such gift is for the personal benefit of the reporting individual or procurement employee, another reporting individual or procurement employee, or any member of the immediate family of a reporting individual or procurement employee. “(emphasis added)
“A reporting individual or procurement employee or any other person on his or her behalf is prohibited from knowingly accepting, directly or indirectly, a gift from a vendor doing business with the reporting individual’s or procurement employee’s agency..” (emphasis added)
The statute also addresses the actions of a vendor:
“A vendor doing business with the reporting individual’s or procurement employee’s agency;….. is prohibited from giving, either directly or indirectly, a gift that has a value in excess of $100 to the reporting individual or procurement employee or any other person on his or her behalf..” (emphasis added)
TR will have a follow-up report after the Ethics Board meeting on Tuesday.