TEXTGATE goes to state! Mayor Jacobs and Citizens for a Greater Orange County respond
So, today’s been a busy day for transparency and potential litigation, right? First came the news yesterday that teacher and “citizen” (and possible and former political candidate) Sean Ashby would pull the lever today and file a request for State Attorney Jeff Ashton to petition the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to basically do it’s job: Independently investigate the shenanigans that Orange County pulled off in LOLTEXTGATE. Well, Ashby did file said complaint this morning:
Ninth Judicial Circuit
415 North Orange Avenue
Orlando, Florida 32801
The Honorable Mr. Ashton,
This letter is to serve as an official complaint and request for a criminal investigation into members of the Orange County Board of County Commissioners.
As a citizen of Orange County, I am requesting an investigation to include but not be limited to the following:
- Whether the Orange County Board of County Commissioners on or about September 11, 2012 violated the Orange County Charter, Article VI section 601 – Initiative and Referendum, by preventing a lawfully obtained petition with validated signatures from being placed on the General Election Ballot on November 6th 2012 as required in Article VI section 601
- Whether the Orange County Board of County Commissioners on or about September 11, 2012 violated Florida Statute 286.001(2) and Orange County Charter Article II Section 209, by BCC members receiving public input during a properly scheduled meeting, and such input not being placed within the official meeting minutes.
- Whether the Orange County Board of County Commissioners on or about September 11, 2012 violated Chapter 199 of the Florida States Statutes, including but not limited to statutes 119.01 (1), 119.01 (2)(a), 119.01 (2)(f), 119.021 (1)(a), 119.07 (1)(a), by accepting public input via electronic devices, during an official and legally announced public meeting, and whereby purposely discarded messages and prohibited inspection of such public records within a reasonable time.
In addition to the previously noted violations, I am requesting the Orange County State Attorney’s office to investigate possible violations of Orange County Code of Ordinances, Part II, Chapter 2, Article X, Section 2-353 Record of Lobbying Contacts, to determine if registered lobbyists as required in Section 2-352, properly and lawfully recorded contacts with the Orange County Board of County Commissioners on or around September 11th 2012, as required in Section 2-353.
Orange County Florida
And, boom! Just like that, Ashton admitted to David Damron over at the Orlando Sentinel that he had already talked with the state authorities on Jan. 17, so, uh, shit’s about to hit the fan? (This almost quells the notion that nobody had filed a complaint before Ashby; Ashton had gone on record with the newspaper indicating it was unlikely he would do any digging; what the fuck happened?) Regardless, Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs issued the following statement via her office late this afternoon, basically speaking in the code reserved for people who are both concerned and passive aggressive at the same time.
“The public deserves and expects a transparent Orange County government. The FDLE inquiry requested by the State Attorney should provide an independent review of the facts and I will do whatever I can to help expedite this process,” she wrote. OK, so now she wants an independent review after previously asserting that one was not necessary? Whatever, says Citizens for a Greater Orange County spokeswoman Stephanie Porta (also of Organize Now!).
“It’s not government of, by and for corporate lobbyists and it’s not government in the sunshine except when it’s embarrassing to politicians,” said Stephanie Porta of Organize Now. “Over fifty thousand Orange County voters were silenced in September when lobbyists and commissioners colluded to keep Earned Sick Time off the ballot and we have a right to know why.”