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Posted on September 9, 2015
Roughly two weeks before Mayor Andrew Gillum recommended Lila Jaber as the City Commission’s appointment to the newly formed independent ethics board, Ms. Jaber submitted an application for consideration. The application is required for most citizens interested in serving on one of the many citizen boards.
On all applications, including Jaber’s, which can be viewed here, is a box with the following request: “Identify any potential conflicts of interest that might occur were you to be appointed:”
Ms. Jaber provided no information in response to the request.
In addition to our previous report, which documented a contractual relationship between Jaber’s law firm and the City of Tallahassee, TR has learned of more conflicts with the City of Tallahassee and the Gunster law firm.
First, a review of the current members of the Citizens Advisory Committee for Utilities finds that a Gunster lawyer from the Tallahassee office, Beth Keating, is a current member. Members can be viewed here.
Members of this committee are appointed by the City Manager, Anita Favors-Thompson, the highest ranking non-elected official in city government.
In this situation, potential conflicts with Ms. Jaber and her Ethics Board responsibilities could arise in a number of situations.
Second, Adam Corey, an employee of the Gunster law firm, is a member of two City boards, the Tallahassee Housing Authority and the Downtown Improvement Authority. Membership rosters can be viewed here.
Both appointments require approval of the full City Commission. Again, potential conflicts with Ms. Jaber could arise in a number of situations, including any complaint filed against an elected official.
In addition, Mr. Corey has a contractual relationship with the City of Tallahassee as the developer of the Edison restaurant.
The Edison restaurant is a public-private partnership which has required City Commission approval on a number of occasions.
TR tried to contact the corporate offices of the Gunster law firm without success.
A number of questions remain.
First, given these relationships and the potential for conflicts, why did Ms. Jaber not include any of this information on her application?
And second, given the facts as they are now, can Ms. Jaber continue as a member of the independent Ethics Board?
TR will continue to investigate.