Ethics Board Addresses Public Appearances by City Officials

Ethics Board Addresses Public Appearances by City Officials

At its January 21 meeting, the Independent Ethics Board discussed the impact of public appearances by City officials. The discussion considered the premise that the City should clarify its policies on City officials’ participation in privately-sponsored events.

The Ethics Board staff drafted a statement that noted, “Sometimes promoting or recognizing a local activity, event, or facility can leave the appearance that a public official, in his or her official capacity, is endorsing a particular individual or organization. We believe this can lead to public concerns about ethical behavior.”

Last year, Tallahassee Mayor John Dailey raised questions when he appeared in a commercial for a local car dealership, Kraft Infiniti. According to WFSU, Dailey said he had not given Kraft Infiniti permission to include him in the commercial, which was later removed from the air.

The staff reported that the Ethics Board has received multiple cases of City officials participating in privately-sponsored events, and that the policy recommendations are not a direct response to a certain case. Rather, they are intended to establish a “best practice” to promote ethical behavior.

According to the meeting agenda, City policies should guide City officials in recognizing which events they should limit participation in to avoid misuse of public position.

Staff also recommended that policies “include brief statements or materials that can be provided to organizers of private events and activities concerning the role of City officials and how City officials’ participation may be portrayed.”

Finally, staff recommended creating specific standards for City officials to consider when accepting or declining invitations to privately-sponsored events.

6 Responses to "Ethics Board Addresses Public Appearances by City Officials"

  1. Hers a book I’d love to see written:
    “Profiles in Tallahassee Corruption” by the city’s top investigative journalist Peter Schweizer.

    Boy, would that be a page-turner!

  2. So, you are saying that Commissioners, City & County, should NOT attend any Ribbon Cuttings or Ground Breakings for new Businesses and should NOT give any Speeches at those Ceremonies?

    1. They are saying that you shouldn’t use that business to promote yourself and especially using it to receive free advertising.

      Perhaps if businesses want local officials to attend groundbreaking ceremonies the staff should evaluate and book the appearances and decipher if there are any shenanigans.

      Local officials may be cherry picking businesses they attend Ceremonies for, for example contributors, special interest, conflicts, quid pro quo, excetera.

      It should be a fair playing field and local officials shouldn’t be using it to promote themselves.

      This is common sense 101.

  3. If these local elected officials need this much “guidance” as to what is ethical and what is not, then perhaps they shouldn’t be elected into public office in the first place.

    Just a thought

  4. Another great article, Lexie!

    The mayor tried to pull a fast one and you will not convince me otherwise; and he got away with it. He received free airtime worth in the thousands of dollars using his official title as mayor of Tallahassee. Clearly a misuse of his position.

    The yearly chamber Commerce event that is held in Amelia Island or Sandestin is nothing more then a tool for political hacks to introduce their clients also known as candidates to the business world. Hopefully, the ethics board will shut this down as well. Public funds should not be used for local officials to attend this event.

    It is time for Gary Yordon to pay for his own vacation.

    The ethics board appears to be on the right track and Bravo!

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