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Bar dismisses complaint against Hillsborough Commissioner Kemp

Allegations surfaced during commissioner’s 2020 re-election campaign.
Hillsborough Count Commission Chairwoman Pat Kemp said she will seek reimbursement of her legal bill over a complaint made to the Florida Bar.
Hillsborough Count Commission Chairwoman Pat Kemp said she will seek reimbursement of her legal bill over a complaint made to the Florida Bar. [ Courtesy of Pat Kemp ]
Published Jun. 17
Updated Jun. 17

The Florida Bar has dismissed a complaint against Hillsborough Commission Chairwoman Pat Kemp that alleged she misrepresented herself as a practicing attorney even though her license was inactive.

The complaint, from Tom Rask of Pinellas County, came during Kemp’s hard-fought re-election campaign last year in which she defeated then-Commissioner Sandra Murman. The complaint contended Kemp’s multiple comments from the dais, in which she referenced her profession as a lawyer, constituted practicing law without a license.

The Bar’s grievance committee said there was not probable cause to substantiate the allegation. However, it sent Kemp a letter “to encourage you to adjust your conduct accordingly” and advised “you cease prefacing statements or making reference to your status as a lawyer as it can be misunderstood to mean you are actively practicing law or offering legal advice.”

The letter, the Bar said, does not constitute a disciplinary record against Kemp.

To avoid the confusion, Kemp told the Tampa Bay Times she planned to reactivate her law license that she voluntarily put on inactive status after her 2016 election to the commission.

She said she also planned to submit her legal bills totaling approximately $5,000 to the county for reimbursement, because she retained an attorney to represent her before the Bar.

“It was a political ploy that is costing the taxpayers $5,000. I mean this was made by a political operative in Pinellas County,” she said.