The chairperson of Florida’s ethics commission violated the commission’s own rules by taking a job as the administrator of a Gov. Ron DeSantis-controlled special district, according to a Thursday opinion from the commission’s attorney.
As a member of the Florida Commission on Ethics, Glenton “Glen” Gilzean cannot “hold any public employment,” according to state statute.
But in May, Gilzean was hired by the Central Florida Tourism Oversight board to be the district’s new administrator. The district, formerly known as Reedy Creek, governs and manages taxes for Walt Disney World and two surrounding cities. Gilzean makes $400,000 in that role. DeSantis appoints the members of the board for the district.
The new ruling means Gilzean will likely have to resign from one of his posts.
After the Florida Bulldog initially reported Monday about the potential conflict, Gilzean asked the ethic commission’s general counsel for an opinion on whether he can continue to serve on the commission.
After reviewing Gilzean’s contract with the Central Florida district, the commission’s general counsel, Steven Zuilkowski, said Gilzean’s role as district administrator appears to be public employment and that “maintaining public employment is inconsistent” with the laws.
Zuilkowski wrote that the contract Gilzean signed refers to him as an employee, is for an indefinite period of time, gives him an annual salary and has the ability to gain severance, “which is indicative of an employment relationship...”
“When viewed in its totality, the terms of the Agreement tend to confirm what the Agreement claims explicitly; that you are a District employee and, therefore, a public employee,” Zuilkowski wrote.
Gilzean did not respond to a call, text or email to his office requesting comment.
In Gilzean’s email to Zuilkowski requesting a legal opinion, he said he remained on the ethics commission after taking the district job based on their conversations from months prior.
But Zuilkowski said in his opinion that, during that April conference call between the two and the commission’s executive director, the director told Gilzean about the public employment requirement, but that Gilzean said he had received legal advice elsewhere about holding both jobs.
“You stated you would contact me if you wanted my legal opinion,” Zuilkowski wrote.
Gilzean was appointed to the commission in 2019 by DeSantis and was reappointed in 2020 and again in 2022. He has been a frequent appointee of Florida governors. DeSantis also appointed Gilzean to the Re-Open Florida Task Force and the Florida Census Complete Count Committee. Former Gov. Rick Scott previously appointed Gilzean to the Florida A&M board, the 9th Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission and the Pinellas County School Board.