Tallahassee Mayor's Ethics Charges Dropped

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By: Andy Alcock
January 25, 2013

Tallahassee, FL - Ethics charges against Tallahassee Mayor John Marks have been dropped.

Tune in to Eyewitness News at Noon for more on this story.

By: Andy Alcock

Tallahassee, FL - The case against Tallahassee's mayor is headed back to Florida's Ethics Commission with a recommendation to drop the charges.

As we first reported Tuesday, a judge says there's not enough evidence to find Mayor John Marks violated the law.

"I think he's a very honest well meaning person and I don't think he violated anything," said Barry Richard, Marks' attorney.

On Tuesday, Administrative Law Judge Lawrence Stevenson recommended the ethics case against Marks be dropped due to lack of evidence.

"It's terribly disappointing to me and a number of citizens here in Tallahassee," said Erwin Jackson.

Jackson, a local businessman, filed the complaint against the mayor based on two separate issues.

Judge Stevenson found Marks was paid $2-thousand dollars month by the Alliance for Digital Equality or ADE.

He found the mayor voted to include ADE in a city proposal.

But because it was later discovered the non-profit was ineligible to get the federal grant money in the proposal, ADE couldn't benefit as required to violate the ethics law.

"I think it's clear when you look at the recitation of evidence, that John had no improper intent," said Richard.

"He did everything he could to generate more money for the company that was paying him," said Jackson.

Second, Judge Stevenson found Marks was being paid $150,000 a year, more than double his salary as mayor, to work for the Adorno & Yoss lawfirm.

Marks voted for a $52-million dollar contract for Honeywell, a major client of Adorno & Yoss.

City attorney Jim English told Marks to check with that lawfirm about a possible conflict.

Instead, the mayor called a Honeywell salesman who told him the company had no business with Adorno & Yoss.

Judge Stevenson says because Marks didn't know about the conflict as required by ethics law, the charge should be dropped.

"To me that was no more than just a kick back, that's what I believe," said Jackson.

"There clearly was no knowledge on his part, he made a conscientious effort to find out," said Richard.

The Ethics Commission could make a final ruling on the case as soon as January.

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