TBT: City Passes Over FDLE General Counsel for In-House Ethics Position, Questions Arise Over Qualifications of New Hire

TBT: City Passes Over FDLE General Counsel for In-House Ethics Position, Questions Arise Over Qualifications of New Hire

ThrowBackThursday : This article was originally published on November 3, 2014. Today, the City’s Ethics Board will discuss the hiring process for the Ethics Officer position. 

When the City Attorney and City Auditor filled the in-house ethics officer position last month, they passed on hiring the former General Counsel of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement who also served as the agency’s Chief Ethics Officer.

Tallahassee Reports has learned that the City of Tallahassee narrowed the selection of the City’s Ethic Officer to three candidates after interviewing nine candidates from a pool of approximately 150 applicants.

The three candidates selected were Julie Meadows-Keefe, who was eventually hired by the City of Tallahassee, Michael Ramage, former General Counsel of Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), and Charles Faircloth, former Chief of Staff of the Florida Department of Financial Service.

All three candidates were interviewed by City Attorney Lew Shelley, City Auditor Bert Fletcher, City Treasurer Clerk James Cooke, and City Manager Anita Favors Thompson.

The full applications for the three finalists can be reviewed by clicking on the links below. Summaries of the applicants latest work experience as provided by the applicants are listed at the end of this post.

Julie Meadows-Keefe

Michael Ramage

Charles Faircloth

Ultimately, the City Attorney and the City Auditor were responsible for the hiring decision and chose Julie Meadows-Keefe to fill the position.

City Attorney Bert Fletcher told Tallahassee Reports that Meadows-Keefe was the only candidate offered the job.

Reviews of the candidates’ applications show that both Mr. Ramage and Mr. Faircloth provided significantly more details about their work history than Ms. Meadows-Keefe.

Michael Ramage told Tallahassee Reports that the hour long interview focused on how his experience would translate to the City position.

When asked why he applied for the position, Ramage said “I applied because I thought my experience at FDLE would be a good fit for the position.”

Ramage confirmed he was not offered the job but indicated he would have probably accepted an offer.

When asked what specific qualifications separated Meadows-Keefe from the other two candidates, Fletcher first stated she was “the most qualified” and then added she “was the best fit for what we are doing.”

The timing of the hiring of the in-house ethics officer, right after a charter amendment requiring an independent ethics officer was approved for the November ballot, has raised questions about the motives of the City by those seeking independent oversight of City actions.

In fact, a Tallahassee Democrat editorial wrote about the hiring, “The City has a new ethics officer. But it still has a problem.”

Now supporters of the ballot initiative, off the record of course, are questioning the qualifications of the recently hired ethics officer.

“How can you review the applications and say Meadows-Keefe is more qualified that Mr. Ramage – it’s not possible.”

Another said, “How do you pass on the Chief Ethics Officer of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement?”


Applicants’ Latest Full-Time Work History Details As Provided On Application

Julie Meadows-Keefe

Employer: Grossman, Furlow & Bayo
Job Title: Of Counsel
Number of Employees Supervised: 0
Start Date: 2/1/2012
Description: Practice focused on HIPPA and Professional Licensure Defense.


Michael R Ramage

Employer: FDLE
Job Title: General Counsel
Number of Employees Supervised: 20
Start Date: 6/15/1992-2/28/2014
Description: Chief counsel for statewide law enforcement agency (the activities of which include complex fraud and rug investigations, the state’s Capitol Police, the state’s domestic security function, the state criminal history database, multiple statewide crime labs, and the Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission officer licensure functions). Personal duties include: -FDLE Chief Ethics Officer and Privacy Officer. -Florida State Fusion Center Privacy Officer. -Registered legislative lobbyist. -Supervisor of 14 agency attorneys around the state, responsible for hiring & termination; monitoring quality and accuracy of legal work performed; addressing workload locations and resolving conflicts and “law office issues.” Also supervised 5 support (administrative and secretarial) staffers. -Member of FDLE’s Command Staff. –Assisting internal affairs and inspector general inquires. –Assisting in CALEA certification/recertification legal issues. -Counsel tot he Florida Violent Crime and Drug Control Council –Working with the Florida Police Chiefs association, the Florida Prosecuting Attorneys Association, Florida Sheriffs Association, the State Law Enforcement Chiefs Association ad the Florida Association of Police Attorneys on matters of mutual interest. Testifying before state and Congressional committees. Developing (writing and narrating) online in-house ethics and public records training segments as well as developing and presenting live presentations on ethics, public records, privacy, sexual harassment, and police legal issues. Policy and procedure drafting and review.


Charles T Faircloth

Employer: Florida Department of Financial Services
Job Title: Chief of Staff/Exec. Dir.
Number of Employees Supervised: 2
Start Date: 2/07/2011-7/31/2014
Description: Senior manger supporting Florida’s Medicaid and Public Assistance Fraud Strike Force, a multi-governmental anti-fraud task force chaired by Florida’s Chief Financial Officer and vice-chaired by the Attorney General. The Strike Force members also include the agency heads of DCF, AHCA, DOH and FDLE as well as two Police Chiefs, two Sheriffs and a State Attorney. Plans and leads all Strike Force activities including quarterly Strike Force meetings, monthly subcomittee meetings and preparation of the annual report. Extensive interagency intelligence ordination ad communication fraud issues involving state funds, state agencies and local prosecution ad law enforcement agencies. Oversees efforts to improve and innovate IT data systems commonality, connectivity and consolidation for anti-fraud programs. Responsible for improving the State of Florida’s communication, cooperation and regulatory and law enforcement actions against Medicaid and Public Assistance Fraud. Leaving because the Strike Force has ended its existence.

5 Responses to "TBT: City Passes Over FDLE General Counsel for In-House Ethics Position, Questions Arise Over Qualifications of New Hire"

  1. Mr. Ramage is clearly “over qualified” given that he actually is the FDLE “Ethics Officer”.. (tongue in cheek). Perhaps the members of the Ethics Board should have been included in the interview & hiring process.
    Can we have a “do over”?

  2. I rarely agree with Bob Fulford but he is exactly right, the other two were not controllable.

    I am totally amazed with what the City Government Officials get away with, and they do not even try to hide it. This is so obvious that they wanted to be sure they had someone that would not rock their boat and would not be an independent thinker.

    The spirit of Stalin is alive and well in City Hall.

    The entire Ethic Ordinance is a waste of $500,000. The money would have been better spent on hiring an independent prosecutor reporting to an independent ethics board.

  3. Best fit means there is an opening in the employee’s back where the City can insert it’s puppeteer’s hand.

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