‘ILL-GOTTEN’ GIFTS: Ethics report says city manager ‘overlooked every ethical law’

Tallahassee Democrats by Jeff Burlew

Former Tallahassee City Manager Rick Fernandez “overlooked every ethical law” on the books when he accepted free Florida State University skybox tickets from a prominent local lobbyist and failed to disclose them as gifts.

That assertion, by a prosecutor for the Florida Commission on Ethics, was among damning revelations contained in documents released Wednesday by the agency. Details also emerged about probable causing findings the commission made Friday in a hearing held behind closed doors.

The commission, in a unanimous vote, found probable cause that Fernandez committed 20 separate violations of state ethics law when he accepted the football tickets and a nearly $7,000 catering discount from the city-subsidized Edison restaurant. The findings involve allegations he misused his position to get the discount and tickets and was unlawfully compensated when he accepted them. They also involve numerous violations of Florida’s gift laws.

The commission’s advocate, an assistant attorney general who acts as a prosecutor for the agency, wrote that Fernandez received an “ill-gotten” privilege in the form of the skybox tickets.

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