Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Florida Commission on Ethics clears St. Pete Beach Commissioner Bev Garnett

ST. PETE BEACH — City Commissioner Bev Garnett was cleared July 29 of any wrongdoing by the Florida Commission on Ethics, which looked into a complaint filed by a political rival who claimed that legal representation she received was an illegal gift.

Former city Commissioner Harry Metz filed the complaint. The two are opponents in the city's ongoing development wars.

Metz alleged Garnett violated state laws when she was defended in a lawsuit stemming from her volunteer service with Save Our Little Village, a political action committee. The suit against SOLV named Garnett and other members and was filed by a resident previously associated with Citizens for Responsible Growth. Metz was a founder of CRG.

Metz claimed that Garnett, who subsequently was elected to the commission, received an illegal gift by being defended by the SOLV attorney.

The Commission on Ethics disagreed.

"The legal services did not have a value attributable to (Garnett)," commission investigator Melody Hadley wrote in her report for the commission.

"I was vindicated. It only took a matter of minutes to dismiss the case," Garnett said Monday. She called Metz's complaint part of a pattern of harassment that has gone on for three years.

Metz insists he does not have a vendetta against Garnett.

"She has no idea what harassment is," Metz said when told of Garnett's comments. "I am just pointing out the laws."

Metz, who himself has been the target of multiple ethics and elections complaints, was fined $500 by the Commission on Ethics for failing to fully report business and rental income on a 2007 financial statement.

The complaint leading to that fine was filed against Metz by a SOLV supporter.

Metz was elected to the City Commission in 2007 but decided not to run for re-election.

After Garnett ran unopposed for his seat in 2009, Metz filed 13 complaints against Garnett with the Florida Elections Commission.

Only one of those complaints was actually considered by the commission, which in 2010 overrode its investigators and dismissed the case, according to Garnett.

"They thought it was ridiculous," she said.

The case involved a $76 cash campaign contribution, which was over the $50 legal limit. Earlier that year the limit was $100.

In December 2009, the City Commission voted to reimburse Garnett for more than $4,200 she spent in legal fees defending herself in a development-related lawsuit filed 20 days after she qualified as a candidate for the commission in 2008. The lawsuit is the same one cited in Garnett's ethics case.

The next day, Metz filed a lawsuit against her and the city challenging that payment. He later voluntarily dismissed the suit.

On Sept. 21, 2010, the commission again reimbursed Garnett, this time for more than $21,000 in legal fees related to Metz's election complaint and lawsuit.

Seven days later, Metz filed his complaint with the Commission on Ethics.

To date, the city has reimbursed Garnett for more than $25,000 in legal costs connected to Metz's legal actions.

"I had to front the costs. Luckily my husband and I are able to do that," Garnett said.

She did not hire an attorney in the ethics case. She said she has not decided whether to seek any reimbursement for travel costs.

As for Metz, he says he is ready to file additional complaints against Garnett if and when the situation warrants.

Florida Commission on Ethics clears St. Pete Beach Commissioner Bev Garnett 08/06/11 [Last modified: Saturday, August 6, 2011 4:31am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Woman dead in St. Petersburg shooting

    Crime

    ST. PETERSBURG

    Woman fatally shot Saturday night

    A 31-year-old woman was shot and killed Saturday night, police said.

  2. Jones: Rather than criticizing anthem protests, we should be asking about the reasons for them

    Bucs

    MINNEAPOLIS — They are football players. They are teammates. They are Tampa Bay Bucs.

    Bucs wide receivers Mike Evans (13) and DeSean Jackson (11) kneel during the national anthem. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  3. Here kitty, kitty ...

    Blogs

    In a toned down version of the annual rookie dress-up day based on MLB's new anti-hazing policy, Rays rookie players and staff - plus second-year LHP Blake Snell - donned DJ Kitty onesies for the trip to New York.

    Rays rookie players and staff - joined here by Alex Colome - sporting their DJ Kitty onesies before the flight to New York.
  4. Pasco residents affected by Irma invited to town hall meeting

    Local Government

    NEW PORT RICHEY — Representatives from Pasco County Emergency Management and the Federal Emergency Management Agency will play host to a town hall-style meeting from 6 to 8 p.m. Monday in the first-floor boardroom of the West Pasco Government Center, 8731 Citizens Drive, New Port Richey

    Sandra Cunningham assesses the damage a water oak did to her Church Avenue home when it crashed into her bedroom roof during Hurricane Irma.
  5. Lightning's Nikita Kucherov has a lot to say — about moving on to a much better season

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Nikita Kucherov sits back in his stall and smiles.

    Laughs a little, too.

    Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov (86) prepares for a faceoff during the first period of Friday's  (9/22/17) preseason game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Nashville Predators at Amalie Arena in Tampa.