Zero money for Zapata, ethics panel is urged
A Miami legislator is likely to lose his bid to force a rival to pay his bills in an ethics case. The staff of the Commission on Ethics is recommending denial of a request by Rep. Juan Zapata, a Miami Republican. While the commission staff found a lack of evidence to support a charge that Zapata abused his position, it also found that Zapata's tormentor did not act with a "malicious intent" to damage the lawmaker's reputation -- a requirement to sustain an attorney's fee petition.
Zapata's request follows a complaint by Julio Jaramillo, president of the Colombian American Service Association (CASA), who accused Zapata of a series of retaliatory moves against the organization for removing him from its board, along with submitting incomplete financial disclosure forms. An ethics investigation found probable cause that Zapata failed to list all of his creditors on the forms over a five-year period, but voted to drop the case.
Zapata's request, and the recommended denial, will be decided at the April 18 ethics commission meeting.