TAMPA — The Florida Commission on Ethics says it found insufficient evidence to conclude that Hillsborough elections chief Buddy Johnson misused his position by assigning personal errands to a staffer during working hours.
The case stems from a complaint filed by Beleria Floyd, a member of the Florida Elections Commission hired by Johnson in 2006 as a $71,739-a-year community relations coordinator in the African-American community.
Floyd's job lasted just eight months, ending when Johnson said her post had been cut to save money for an unspecified technology job. After she was terminated, Floyd filed her complaint.
Floyd said he once handed her $20 and told her to gas up his Mercedes and bring back $10 in change. His version, according to an investigative summary: She "offered to help in any way due to the hectic nature of an election day coordination," and "was comfortable" gassing up his car.
Johnson's general counsel, Kathy Harris, explained it another way when a reporter asked about the incident last year. Floyd and Johnson were inspecting voting sites when he stopped for gas, Harris said, and she got out and began "filling the gas tank, without being asked."
Floyd also said Johnson put her to work recruiting office staffers to attend charity dinners for which he had purchased tickets. The banquets were hosted by a pregnancy care center and domestic abuse shelter where he previously served as a board member.
The Ethics Commission decided Johnson did not misuse his position in either case because he used his own money for the tickets and took measures to ensure his staff knew that attending was not mandatory, the investigative summary said.
Floyd, a Democrat, also said that Johnson, a Republican, urged her to vote for him. The report did not address that.