Tallahassee Reports has recovered an email that shows City Commissioner Nancy Miller soliciting a donation from Waste Pro – a city vendor – through Paige Carter-Smith for the North West Florida League of Cities.
The solicitation email was sent from Miller’s official City of Tallahassee email.
Records show that Carter-Smith was not registered as a lobbyist during 2014. However, it appears City Commissioner Miller was aware of the business relationship between Waste Pro, Paige Carter-Smith and Governance.
The email – shown at the end of this report- was sent from Miller to Carter-Smith’s Governance email on March 31, 2014. Miller writes:
I believe this is a worthy sponsorship for Waste Pro to consider, because this organization is made up of elected officials from all over the panhandle. Can you assist with acquiring a sponsorship? Let me know what I can do to help.
Miller’s email was in response to a request from a Northwest Florida League of Cities official seeking $1,000 donations for the organization.
Records show that in 2012 the City Commission and Commissioner Miller voted to approve a five-year contract extension for Waste Pro of Florida, Inc. for solid waste collection services through September 30, 2018. The contract was estimated to be worth at least $20,000,000.
Also, weeks before Miller solicited the donation from Waste Pro, the recently released affidavit in support of a search warrant by federal officials shows that Miller’s fellow commissioner, Scott Maddox and Carter-Smith were discussing Waste Pro (COMPANY THREE) business.
From the affidavit:
On March 7, 2014, CARTER-SMITH forwarded an email using email account email@example.com to firstname.lastname@example.org. The forwarded email was an exchange with a marketing executive at COMPANY THREE, a waste services provider that has paid GOVERNANCE over $170,000 since 2013.
Florida state statutes regulate the solicitation of gifts by public officials. One of the regulating statutes states:
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, a political committee as defined in s. 106.011, or a lobbyist who lobbies the reporting individual’s or procurement employee’s agency, or the partner, firm, employer, or principal of such lobbyist, where such gift is for the personal benefit of the reporting individual or procurement employee…
The key term in the above statute is “personal benefit.” Did seeking a donation on behalf of another organization benefit City Commissioner Miller in any way?
In June 2013, Governance and The Big Production – a company with the same address as Governance, Inc – gave Miller two $500 campaign contributions.
Also, in her first election in 2010, Miller’s campaign paid The Zachary Group $40,000 in campaign fees. The Zachary listed the same business address as Governance, Inc.