Recently the Tallahassee Democrat reported that Tallahassee City Manager Rick Fernandez had hired a lawyer to ask the city’s Independent Ethics Board to reconsider their decision to forward a complaint against Fernandez to the Florida Commission on Ethics.
That request now seems moot.
Dr. Erwin Jackson, a local business owner and watchdog of local government, has filed a complaint with the Florida Commission on Ethics addressing three separate issues involving Mr. Fernandez.
Dr. Jackson told TR that “an in-depth investigation is required to determine if Mr. Fernandez has violated any ethics laws. I had hoped the Independent Ethics Board would have been able to address this issue. However, the city attorney Lew Shelley, has made that impossible by writing the city’s ethics ordinance in a way that protects city commissioners and city employees.”
The complaint and the statement of facts address a discount that the daughter of Rick Fernandez received from the Edison restaurant for a catering event, the hiring of the salesperson for the catering event, Eddie Kring, without publicly advertising the job, and accepting football tickets from the owner of the Edison restaurant and city lobbyist Adam Corey in 2016.
The formal complaint reads in part:
This complaint concerns a city manager that violated Florida’s Code of Ethics in three ways: 1) he obtained a substantial discount on catering for his daughter’s wedding reception from a company that was a city vendor and partly owned by city lobbyists; 2) the city manager provided an unadvertised city job to an employee of the caterer who helped him obtain the large discount; and 3) the city manager accepted free football tickets in a skybox owned by one of the city lobbyists that owned the catering business.
The complaint seeks to establish the legal requirement for a full investigation into the allegations by the Florida Commission on Ethics.