The Florida Ethics Commission has released its review of cases against several current and former public officials, including former Gainesville Mayor Ed Braddy.
During a closed door meeting last week, the commission decided there was probable cause against Braddy regarding six allegations made against him.
In a media release following that closed door meeting, the commission said there is probable cause to believe he accepted a gift valued at more than $100 from a lobbyist and that he failed to disclose a “reportable” gift.
The release also states there is probable cause to believe he solicited a gift from a lobbyist. Additionally, probable cause was found to believe he accepted things of value that were given to influence a vote or other action in which he was expected to participate, and that he solicited or accepted them, based on an understanding that his official action or judgment would be influenced. An allegation that he misused his position regarding persons or entities that gave him gifts also resulted in a finding of probable cause.
The complaints against Braddy stemmed from his relationship with former Fraternal Order Of Police Lodge #67 President Jeff McAdams. McAdams is scheduled to stand trial in 2017 on charges of embezzling money from the union. In his bid for reelection as mayor earlier this year, Braddy was defeated by Lauren Poe.
In an email to WUFT News, Braddy wrote:
The Commission has only found probable cause at this stage in the proceeding, which is not a final judgment. I was surprised by the Commission’s finding, particularly after its own Commission Advocate stated there was no probable cause on five of the six allegations.
I am exploring my options at this time, whether I settle this case as a prudent business decision, or have the case referred to an administrative law judge for a more impartial determination. Either way, I did not commit the violations referenced in the complaint – I certainly would never trade the power of my office as Mayor, or vote a certain way for a few hundred dollars in expenses, or knowingly solicit any gifts from a lobbyist.
The Florida Commission on Ethics is an independent, nine member commission formed in 1974 to review complaints and answer questions from public officials about potential conflicts of interest through its issuance of advisory opinions.
If the Ethics Commission believes a violation of the law may have occurred, it may decide to hold a public hearing. If it concludes a violation has been committed, it may recommend civil penalties that include removal from office or employment and fines up to $10,000 per violation.