August 3, 2016 – The Palm Beach Post
by Eliot Kleinberg
Riviera Beach City Council members Dawn Pardo, Cedric Thomas and Bruce Guyton traded emails about city business on their personal accounts and held private face-to-face
talks on city issues, both ostensibly violations of Florida’s Government in the Sunshine Law,
prosecutors’ documents say.
The assertions, most of them made by Thomas to prosecutors, are in 86 pages of documents obtained Wednesday by The Palm Beach Post from the Palm Beach County State Attorney’s office. The documents also were handed to reporters later Wednesday by Fane Lozman, a Riviera Beach and Palm Beach County activist whose August 2015 complaint led to a June 2016 charge against then-council member Guyton.
“When I looked at this document, I was astounded at how much bigger this was” than his original complaint against Guyton, Lozman told reporters outside Riviera Beach City Hall.
“They didn’t want the public to know what was going on in the city,” Lozman said. “It was just a
charade at the public hearings. Now we know why.”
Lozman said he and the small Palm Beach Sun newspaper, for which he’s a regular contributor, were offering a reward of up to $100,000 “for documented evidence of political corruption” by Pardo.
Pardo, the only council member mentioned who’s still on the council, said Wednesday through a spokesman, “I have not seen these documents, so I can’t comment on their content.” Guyton’s lawyer, Michael Salnick, said Wednesday, “I don’t have anything to say except, ‘Give Mr. Lozman an audience and he’ll take it.’ We’re going to deal with it in court.” Thomas’ attorney, Scott Richardson, had no comment.
In the documents obtained Wednesday, when an investigator asked Thomas in a November 2015 interview why he and colleagues were sending emails on their private accounts, he said, “Maybe because city email is public record, I guess.”
“The whole purpose of our open government laws is oversight and accountability,” Barbara Petersen, president of Florida’s First Amendment Foundation, a Tallahassee nonprofit open-government advocacy group supported by newspapers and broadcasters, said Wednesday. “When they sit down at a coffee shop, or they’re emailing each other, how do we ever hold them accountable?”