Story and photo by JENNA BAILEY
On June 12, 2019, the State of Florida Commission on Ethics cleared DeFuniak Springs Mayor Bob Campbell of an ethics violation complaint made against him. Lynda Morse, a citizen of DeFuniak Springs at the time, filed the complaint [Complaint No. 17-075].
According to Morse’s complaint, Campbell was guilty of three ethics violations. The first violation regarded Section 112.313 (6), Florida Statutes. Morse claimed that Campbell had arranged for the sale of public and private property without the authorization of the City Council. The Commission found no probable cause to believe that Campbell had violated Section 112.313 (6).
Second, Morse alleged that Campbell had violated Section 112.313 (7)(a), Florida Statutes, by having a contractual relationship with Andrews and Arnsdorff Realty and/or Steve Youell which was subject to the regulation of or doing business with the city. The Commission found no probable cause to believe Campbell had violated Section 112.313 (7)(a).
The third complaint alleged that Campbell had violated Section 112.313 (8), Florida Statutes, by disclosing or using information not available to the general public and gained by reason of his official position for his or another’s personal gain or benefit. The Commission found no probable cause to believe Campbell had violated Section 112.313 (8).
The complaint was officially dismissed with the issuance of the June 12, 2019 public report of the Commission on Ethics’ June 7, 2019 executive session.
“I just wanted the public to know that I was cleared of all of these accusations,” Campbell expressed. In response to his reaction when he received notice of the complaint, Campbell stated, “I think the complaint took place in probably mid-2017. About incidents that took place back in 2013. I thought, ‘Why is someone all of a sudden bringing this up? Why didn’t they bring it up in 2014?’ That was probably the biggest thing that surprised me.” Campbell stated that he was not surprised to see who the complainant was and said that she had been after him in public meetings, letters-to-the-editor, on social media, and other ways.
Due to the time frame of when the alleged ethics violations took place and when the complaint was later filed, Campbell believes that a former council member had given Morse the information. Campbell did not state the name of the former council member. Campbell also stated that the complainant had not been around in 2013 through 2015. “I think she may have started hanging out here in late 2016. So all of the information that was used to make these complaints were handed to her through someone else. Which I believe was a council member. How much she distorted, I don’t know how much was distorted to her, but it was greatly distorted.”
Campbell said he believes that the complaint was a distraction tactic by a couple of former council members to prevent him and other staff from trying to get things done for the city. This is if said actions did not meet the narrative of the council members that Campbell believes to be involved. “I’ve certainly made mistakes, but never with the intent to take advantage of anyone or to make gain for myself,” Campbell continued. “I’m glad that it has gone through the investigation. It’s been in front of the Ethics Commission who read all the reports and all the accusations and all the investigation. This is what they found. That there were no violations.”