This is how the Commission on Ethics looked at the Hutcherson Case; yet, the Town is looking at charges against Tomlinson

Karin Fleischhaker-Griffin
Fri, Sep 14, 2018, 3:17 PM
to helenbmiller

THE COMMISSION MADE NO FACTUAL INVESTIGATION BEFORE THE REVIEW AND APPARENTLY THE COMMISSION FELT THERE WAS NO LEGAL SUFFICIENCY IN PAYING AN EMPLOYEE FOR TWO YEARS WHEN THE EMPLOYEE WAS UNABLE TO WORK AND YOUR ROADWAYS WENT DOWN THE DRAIN

POSTED ONSEPTEMBER 14, 2018Authorgod4joe

THE COMMISSION MADE NO FACTUAL INVESTIGATION BEFORE THE REVIEW AND APPARENTLY THE COMMISSION FELT THERE WAS NO LEGAL SUFFICIENCY IN PAYING AN EMPLOYEE FOR TWO YEARS WHEN THE EMPLOYEE WAS UNABLE TO WORK AND YOUR ROADWAYS WENT DOWN THE DRAIN

PUBLIC REPORT AND ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT
On Friday, September 7, 2018, the Commission on Ethics met in its executive session and considered this complaint for legal sufficiency pursuant to Commission Rule 34-5.002, F. A. C.

The Commission’s review was limited to questions of jurisdiction of the Commission and of the adequacy of the details of the complaint to allege a violation of the Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees. No factual investigation preceded the review, and therefore the Commission’s conclusions do not reflect on the accuracy of the allegations of the complaint.

The Commission voted to dismiss the complaint for lack of legal sufficiency, based on the following analysis.
This complaint was filed by Joe E. Griffin of White Springs, Florida

The Respondent: Tonja Brown serves as the Vice Mayor and a Town Council member for the Town of White Springs….The Respondent Stacy Teboserves as the Town Manager for the Town of White Springs…..The Respondent, Rhett Bullard, is the former Mayor and Current Town Council member for the Town of White Springs……The Respondent, Pam Tomlinson Serves as the Finance Director and Town Clerk for the Town of White Springs…….The Respondent, Willie Jefferson, is a former Town Council member for the Town of White Springs.

The complaint alleges that over a two-year period – from 2016 to 2018 – the Respondent (s) along with other Town officers and employees participated in a “scheme” to provide continued compensation and benefits to a Town employee who was unable to return to work.

In particular, the complaint claims Tonja Brown directed the Town Manager and Town Clerk to prepare and/or approve time sheets for the employee to ensure he would continue receiving paychecks from the Town, despite the fact that the time sheets were unsigned and reported leave hours exceeded the limits provided for in the Town’s personnel manual. The complaint also claims the Respondent told the Town Manager and Town Clerk to ensure the time sheets would not be discovered. The complaint further claims the Respondent should have notified the Town Council that the employee was receiving continued compensation but did not.

In particular, the complaint claims Stacy Tebo provided time sheets regarding the employee to the Town’s Clerk/Finance Director to be processed for payment, despite the fact that they was unsigned and reported leave hours exceeding the limits provided for in the Town’s personnel manual. The complaint further claims the Respondent should have notified the entirety of the Town Council that the Employee was receiving continued compensation, but did not and has since attempted to cover-up the issuance of the Payments. The complaint alleges the Respondent colluded with various Town officers and employees in continuing compensation to this particular employee to keep her position with the Town secure.

In particular, the complaint claims that Rhett Bullard, met outside-the-Sunshine, with a Town Council member, Willie Jefferson, who was the brother-in law of the employee, as well as with other Town Council members, and devised a plan to continue offering full-time compensation to the employee. The complaint also alleges the Respondent directed the Town Manager and Town Clerk to prepare and/or approve time sheets for the employee to ensure he would continue receiving paychecks from the Town, despite the fact that the time sheets were unsigned and reported leave hours exceed the limits provided for in the Town’s personnel manual. The complaint also claims the Respondent told the Town Manager and Town Clerk to ensure the time sheets would not be discovered. The complaint further claims the Respondent instructed the Town Manager not to include the issue of continued compensation for the employee on any Town Council Meeting agenda, and told the Town Auditor not to analyze data concerning the continued compensation during the Town’s audit in 2018.

In particular, the complaint claims the Respondent Pam Tomlinson,accepted time sheets regarding the employee and processed them for payment, despite the fact that they were unsigned and reported leave hours exceeded the limits provided for in the Town’s personnel manual. The complaint further claims the Respondent should have informed the other Town officers and employees involved that their actions were unlawful, but did not and has since attempted to “cover-up”, the issuance of the payments. The complaint alleges the Respondent colluded with various Town officers and employees in continuing compensation to this particular employee to keep her position with the Town secure.

In particular, the complaint claims Willie Jefferson met outside-the-Sunshine with the Town’s former Mayor and devised a plan to continue offering full-time compensation to the employee, who was the Respondent’s brother-in-law. The complaint also alleges the Respondent directed the Town Manager and Town Clerk to prepare and/or approve time sheets for the employee to ensure he would continue receiving paychecks from the Town, despite the fact that the time sheets were unsigned and reported leave hours exceeded the limits provided for in the Town’s personnel manual. The complaint also claims the Respondent told the Town Manager and Town Clerk to ensure the time sheets would not be discovered. The complaint further claims the Respondent could have requested the entire Town Council to consider providing continued compensation to the employee but did not.

The only Code of Ethics provision arguably applicable to the allegations in Paragraph 3 is Section 112.313(6) Florida Statute which states:

MISUSE OF PUBLIC POSITION – No public officer, employee of an agency, or local government attorney shall corruptly use of attempt to use his or her official position or any property or resource which may be within his or her trust, or perform his or her official duties to secure a special privilege, benefit or exemption for himself, herself or others.

Section 112.312(9) Florida statute, defines “corruptly” as
….done with a wrongful intent and for the purpose of obtaining or compensating or receiving compensation, for, any benefit resulting from some act or omission of a public servant, which is inconsistent with the proper performance of his or her public duties.

The allegations in paragraph 3 fail to indicate a possible violation by the Respondent of Section 112.312(6). In order to indicate a possible violation of this provision, a complaint must substantively allege that a respondent corruptly used or attempted to use his or her public position or resources within his or her public trust, or that she corruptly performed her official duties, in order to benefit his self or herself or another. Here the complaint alleges the Respondent – along with other Town officers and employees – made or supported decisions to continue issuing paychecks to a Town employee who was unable to return to work. Even assuming the allegations are true, the complaint does not substantively indicate any private capacity nexus between the Respondent and the employee, as would be supportive of the “corruption” required by the statute.


Moreover, the decision to continue paying the employee pertains to a MANAGERIAL EMPLOYMENT DECISION made by BY TONJA BROWN, AND DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE “CORRUPT” CONDUCT REQUIRED BY THE STATUTE.

While the complaint claims the Respondent’s alleged actions violated the anti-nepotism provision found in Section 112.3135, Florida Statutes, it fails to substantively allege any relation between the Respondent and the employee that would trigger the Statute’s application. (The remaining assertions and statutory citations in the complaint either are not factually indicative of a possible violation of the Code of Ethics or concerns laws not within the Commission’s jurisdiction)


Moreover, the Respondent’s STACY TEBO’S alleged actions in ensuring the Town would continue to pay the employee DESIGNED TO EFFECTUATE MANAGERIAL EMPLOYMENT DECISIONS MADE BY HER SUPERVISORS AND, AS SUCH, DO NOT CONSTITUTE “CORRUPT” CONDUCT REQUIRED BY THE STATUTE.(The remaining assertions and statutory citations in the complaint either are not factually indicative of a possible violation of the Code of Ethics or concerns laws not within the Commission’s jurisdiction).

Here, the complaint alleges the Respondent RHETT BULLARD. Along with other Town officers and employees – made or supported decisions to continue issuing paychecks to a Town employee who was unable to return to work. Even assuming the allegations are true, the complaint does not substantively indicate any private capacity nexus between the Respondent and the employer, as would be supportive of the “corruption” required by the Statute. Moreover, the decision to continue paying the employee PERTAINS TO A MANAGERIAL EMPLOYMENT DECISION made by RHETT BULLARD, and does not constitute the “corrupt” conduct required by the statute.
While the complaint alleges the Respondent, RHETT BULLARD, engaged in outside-the-sunshine conversation with other council members, concerning continued compensation to the town employee, this allegation cannot, without more, form the basis of a sufficient ethics allegation. The Sunshine Law – a provision found in Section 286.011, Florida Statute – is outside the Commission’s jurisdiction and indeed, is administered by the courts, State Attorneys, and Attorney General. Moreover, the unsupported statements alleging these conversations occurred are conclusory and while material assertions of fact are taken as true in the assertions of fact are taken as true in an analysis of legal sufficiency, conclusions or unwarranted deductions of fact are not a sufficiently specific basis for investigation.

Similarly conclusory the additional items that the Responded, RHETT BULLARD, directed the Town Manager not to schedule the issue on a Town Council meeting agenda and instructed the Town Auditor to ignore the employee’s continued compensation on an audit conducted in 2018. These allegations, which speculate about the content of possible conversations to which the Complainant was not a party, do not provide a basis for conducting an investigation. (The remaining assertions and statutory citations in the complaint either are not factually indicative of a possible violation of the Code of Ethics or concerns laws not within the Commission’s jurisdiction)

Moreover, the Respondent’s, Pam Tomlinson’s alleged actions in ensuring the Town would continue to pay the employee appears designed to effectuate MANAGERIAL EMPLOYMENT DECISIONS made by her supervisors, and as such, do not constitute the “corrupt” conduct required by the statute. (The remaining assertions and statutory citations in the complaint either are not factually indicative of a possible violation of the Code of Ethics or concerns laws not within the Commission’s jurisdiction)

Here , the complaint alleges the Respondent, WILLIE JEFFERSON, along with other Town officers and employees – made or supported decisions to continue issuing paychecks to a Town Employee, the Respondent’s Brother- in- law, who was unable to return to work. Even assuming the allegations are true, however, the decision to continue paying the employee pertains to a MANAGERIAL EMPLOYMENT DECISION made by the Respondent and does not constitute the “corrupt” conduct required by the statute.

Although the complaint alleges the Respondent’s conduct violated the anti-nepotism provision in Section 112.3135, Florida Statutes, the allegations in the complaint fail to indicate a possible violation of this statute. Even if the claims in this complaint are accepted as true, the Respondent was not appointing, employing, promoting or advancing his brother-in-law, or advocating for his brother-in-law’s appointment, employment, promotion or advancement, as would be needed to constitute a violation of the statute. At most, the Respondent was exercising supervisory authority over his brother-in-law’s position, which is not prohibited by statute. See CEO 98-7. (The Commission opinions cited herein are available at www.ethics.state.fl.us)

And while the complaint alleges the Respondent WILLIE JEFFERSON engaged in outside-the Sunshine conversation with the former Mayor concerning continuing compensation to the town employee, this allegation cannot, without more, form the basis of a sufficient ethics allegation. The Sunshine Law – a provision found in section 286.011, Florida Statute – is outside the Commission’s jurisdiction and instead is administered by the courts, State Attorneys and the Attorney General. Moreover, the unsupported statement that the conversation occurred is conclusory, and while material assertions of fact are taken as true in an analysis of legal sufficiency, conclusions or unwarranted deductions of fact are not a sufficiently specific basis for investigation (The remaining assertions and statutory citations in the complaint either are not factually indicative of a possible violation of the Code of Ethics or concerns laws not within the Commission’s jurisdiction)

ACCORDINGLY, THESE COMPLAINTS ARE HEREBY DISMISSED FOR FAILURE TO CONSTITUTE A LEGALLY SUFFICIENT COMPLAINT WITH THE ISSUANCE OF THIS PUBLIC REPORT.
ORDERED BY THE STATE OF FLORIDA COMMISSION ON ETHICS MEETING IN EXECUTIVE SESSION ON FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 7, 2018

Signed Guy W. Norris, Chair, Florida Commission on Ethics.

THERE IS NO WAY THE TOWN COULD TAKE ACTION AGAINST PAM TOMLINSON, UNLESS OTHER MONEY WAS REMOVED, EVEN IF FOUND BY THE FORENSIC CPA BECAUSE ALL PAM WOULD HAVE TO SAY IS THAT IT WAS A MANAGERIAL DECISION AND POINT TO THE COMMISSION ON ETHICS RULING. kARIN FOR THE BLOG

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