Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Activist files ethics complaints against three Hillsborough officials

TAMPA — A neighborhood activist has filed complaints with the Florida Ethics Commission against three Hillsborough County officials.

George Niemann's complaints focused on County Administrator Pat Bean, County Attorney Renee Lee and County Commissioner Kevin White.

"What I've charged in all three circumstances is that they've used the power of their official office to gain benefits that they weren't otherwise entitled to," said Niemann, a board member for the United Citizens' Action Network.

Niemann said Bean and Lee abused their power by accepting 1 percent raises in 2007 without approval of the Hillsborough County Commission.

"It says in their contracts that no one can change the terms of the contracts except the board of county commissioners," Niemann said. "(They) changed the terms of their contracts without board approval. In a general sense it's the misuse of public trust."

Commissioners didn't know of the raises until an internal auditor pointed them out in a report released last month.

Bean and Lee have argued that the raises were part of a long-standing incentive program to reward employees who come up with ways to save the county money. They say they were nominated anonymously for the raises, but county officials have been unable to provide documentation of that.

Kay Starling, complaint coordinator for the Ethics Commission, said such complaints are confidential until thoroughly investigated, which could take several months.

But Lee said she was notified last week of the complaint, which Niemann filed last month. She forwarded a response to the Ethics Commission.

"I didn't ask for a raise. I didn't want a raise," Lee said. She also said she was under the impression that the commission had been told about it during budget meetings two years ago. She later learned that was not the case.

Niemann said he filed the complaint against White because the commissioner tried to use his office to gain sexual favors from his aide, Alyssa Ogden. A jury found White guilty of sexual discrimination in August. Ogden said she was fired for refusing White's advances.

Niemann said White also violated state statutes by sharing confidential information about Ogden, such as her cell phone number, with his friend, C. Blythe Andrews.

Janet Zink can be reached at or (813) 226-3401.

Activist files ethics complaints against three Hillsborough officials 10/12/09 [Last modified: Monday, October 12, 2009 11:10pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays are full of ideas they'd like to share when commissioner visits

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Commissioner Rob Manfred is coming to the Trop today. Hmm. Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg will be there to greet him. Hmmmm. And they have a scheduled joint media session. Hmmmmmmmmm.

    Commissioner Rob Manfred isn’t expected to say anything definitive about the Rays’ stadium situation when he visits the team today.
  2. Mayor Rick Kriseman endorsed by another police union


    ST. PETERSBURG — Mayor Rick Kriseman is already backed by the city's largest police union, the Suncoast Police Benevolent Association.

    Mayor Rick Kriseman has secured another police union endorsement
  3. Drinking alcohol on St. Pete beaches now allowed — for hotel guests only

    Local Government

    ST. PETE BEACH — Guests at gulffront hotels here can now drink alcoholic beverages in permitted hotel beach cabana areas.

    Guests relax on the beach near the Don Cesar at St. Pete Beach. Guests at gulf-front hotels in St. Pete Beach can now drink alcoholic beverages in permitted hotel beach cabana areas after the change was passed unanimously by the City Commission Tuesday night. Residents and other beachgoers who are not registered guests of the hotels continue to be barred from imbibing anywhere on the city's beaches.
  4. Man found floating in 'Cotee River in New Port Richey

    Public Safety

    NEW PORT RICHEY — A body was found floating in the Pithlachascotee River on Tuesday morning, police said.

  5. More than 13,000 fact-checks later, PolitiFact celebrates 10-year mark


    ST. PETERSBURG — Bill Adair still remembers the moment when he realized his idea to fact-check politicians could turn into something big.

    From left, Aaron Sharockman, PolitiFact executive director, introduces a panel featuring Angie Holan, PolitiFact editor; PolitiFact founder Bill Adair; and Neil Brown, Tampa Bay Times editor and vice president, at the Poynter Institute on Tuesday.