A day after State Attorney Willie Meggs took a pass on investigating the ouster of Gerald Bailey from commissioner of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, a Villages resident asked if the Florida Commission on Ethics cared to take a look at what happened.
“This is a complaint as to whether it is ethical for Gov. Rick Scott of Florida and the State of Florida to fire Jerry Bailey…in secret meetings not open to the public and without the knowledge and consent of Florida State Cabinet officials,” Charles Swofford stated in the complaint.
Swofford, a Connecticut retiree and a registered Democrat, is no expert on ethics. But under Florida law, he doesn’t have to be. Any person can file an ethics complaint as long as it stems from factual allegations and it is not malicious. Swofford said he filed his complaint after reading reports of Bailey’s dismissal in newspapers.
Filing ethics complaints is fast becoming habit for Swofford, who filed his first ethics complaint in October against Bernard Nash, a partner of the Washington D.C. law firm Dickstein Shapiro for allegedly violating state law in lobbying Attorney General Pam Bondi.
Swofford said he hasn’t heard back from the Commission on Ethics regarding his October complaint.
His latest complaint is a no-brainer, Swofford told the Times/Herald.
“It’s clear as day that this was done without the consent of the Cabinet,” Swofford said. “This is a clear breakdown of state government.”
He also filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI.
“If people can do things like that then the law is a joke,” Swofford wrote the DOJ. “I would like this matter investigated and responsible parties dealt with. Once again This is out of control.”
Swofford joins a Land O’Lakes man, Jim Frissell, who filed a complaint with the FBI last week, and sent it to Commissioner Adam Putnam. That’s in addition to two Tallahassee non-profits, Integrity Florida and Progress Florida, who asked for criminal investigations of Bailey’s ouster two weeks ago (Scott’s general counsel, Tim Cerio, said the allegations made by both groups were false) and St. Petersburg attorney, Matthew Weidner, whose request that Meggs take a gander was declined Wednesday.
Federal officials make it a policy that they won’t comment if they are investigating, so it’s unclear if there are any takers yet.