State Attorney Jeffrey L. Ashton announced Wednesday that no formal charges will be filed against city of Maitland officials accused of violating Sunshine and public records laws in 2012.
According to a release, the investigation found that while a public vote authorized the city attorney to seek an opinion by the attorney general on whether public records laws applied to cultural partners, no Sunshine laws were violated when the city attorney used his discretion to privately discuss with individual council members the impact of such an opinion.
The investigation was prompted by a letter from a Maitland resident. At issue was whether the meetings the city attorney held individually with commissioners and the mayor violated the Sunshine Law because an official action was taken without public access or a public record.
According to the release:
In September 2012, a 5-0 public vote was held authorizing the city attorney to request a formal opinion from the attorney general’s office on the applicability of public records law for Maitland’s cultural partners, including the Maitland Art and History Association. The city attorney met with cultural partner representatives who expressed concerns about the impact of an attorney general’s opinion. After hearing those concerns, the city attorney privately communicated with three sitting members of Maitland’s city council. The city attorney chose not to follow through on the authorization to seek an opinion based on conversations with those three council members.
“While there appears to be little dispute that the city attorney avoided bringing the issue back to council for discussion at a public hearing, there is no violation of Florida’s Government-in-the-Sunshine law,” Ashton said. “The Maitland Council’s vote merely authorized the city attorney to seek an opinion from the attorney general. It was left to his discretion whether to move forward or not.”
Original article here.