On January 25, 2019 the Commission on Ethics will consider a settlement entered into by former Tallahassee City Manager Rick Fernandez and the Advocate for the Commission. The settlement relates to a $4,700 discount on the catering price for his daughters wedding reception and the use of FSU sky box tickets for four different home games in 2016.
In the settlement Fernandez acknowledges violations of various ethics statutes. However, Fernandez disputed all probable cause findings which related to accepting or soliciting gifts with the understanding that his official actions or judgment would be influenced.
The settlement recommends a public censure and reprimand and a civil penalty totaling $6,000.
Amid the controversy, Fernandez resigned from his city manager position with the City of Tallahassee on January 3, 2018 and, as part of the separation agreement, received $94,000, or 18 weeks of pay.
If the Commission on Ethics accepts the settlement, a trial by an administrative hearing officer will be avoided and the matter will be closed.
Following an ethics complaint filed by Dr. Erwin Jackson on August 22, 2017, the Commission on Ethics found probable cause related to twenty of the twenty-four allegations in the the ethics complaint involving six sections of the Florida Statutes.
The violations related to a discount on the catering price for his daughter’s wedding reception from the Edison restaurant and the use of FSU football tickets provided by city lobbyists.
The settlement states that Fernandez admitted to the following violations:
- Respondent failed to report as a gift in excess of $100 related to the discount on catering for his daughter’s wedding reception in excess of $100.
- Respondent solicited a gift (football tickets) from a vendor, lobbyist, and/or the partner, firm, employer or principal of a lobbyist of the City of Tallahassee.
- Respondent accepted gifts in excess of $100 vendor, lobbyist, and/or the partner, firm, employer or principal of a lobbyist of the City of Tallahassee. The gifts were FSU football tickets to Charleston Southern, North Carolina, Wake Forest and Boston College games.