A Brief Overview of the Ethics Law (Chapter 112, Part III, Florida Statutes)
The ethics law in the State of Florida is based primarily on three principles:
1. “A public office is a public trust.”
2. A situation that “tempts to dishonor.”
3. No man can serve two masters.
The first statement is from Article II, Section 8 of the Florida Constitution.
The second statement is from Florida case law and opinions of the state Commission on Ethics.
The third statement is from the Bible and Florida case law.
The application of these three concepts in a situation where an elected or appointed public official is concerned about an issue of ethical behavior will generally yield an answer consistent with statutory and case law.
So if this charade of Tommie Jones continues and he is then a Consultant/Town Manager under a real contract, it is against the Code of Ethics because Jones is serving two masters; Countyline Design Business Services as its president and CEO and the Town of White Springs. This is not a good situation.
1. No man can serve two masters;and
2. Don’t get yourself into a situation that “tempts to dishonor.”
A court ruled that this was unlawful conduct not because a wrong inevitably results, but because it may and probably will result. The court said proof that no wrong was intended or committed, or that no fraud resulted, does not make the behavior legally acceptable
What is important to remember here is that the common law of Florida, as well as Chapter 112, Florida Statutes,defines appropriate conduct of elected and appointed officials in Florida and that even if a gap exists in the statutory language, the common law principles may serve to void or otherwise punish unethical conduct.
And in our case it isn’t as if Mr. Jones wasn’t tried and convicted of theft and subsequently imprisoned. So what is our Mayor and Town attorney thinking? A consultant cannot be a Town Manager or an interim Town Manager.