By: Mariel Carbone | WCTV Eyewitness News
December 13, 2018
Photo: Tallahassee DIA
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) — Less than 24 hours after an indictment dropped naming City Commissioner Scott Maddox and political consultant Paige Carter-Smith, Tallahassee city leaders met for their regularly scheduled Community Redevelopment Agency meeting.
The meeting went on, business as usual, with no mention of the indictment.
The only evidence that something had gone wrong was Maddox’s vacant seat, an empty name tag and a blank frame where Maddox’s photo once hung.
Outside City Hall though, the 44 count indictments were still the talk of the town.
"I heard he was indicted, and I was extremely surprised,” said Narquinta Richardson, who said she was still in disbelief that Maddox could face prison time. "And me knowing of him for many years, voting for him for years. And, knowing of him to do great, positive things for our city."
Still others said the indictment was a long time coming.
“I guess I thought it was about time. I’d been hearing about all this stuff for a couple years now. He seemed to be involved in it, so I was surprised it took as long as it did,” said resident Mike McKinley. "It's a way of life, it's a culture. It's probably rampant throughout city government."
Maddox and Carter-Smith are accused of forcing clients to pay thousands of dollars to their lobbying firm, Governance Inc., in exchange for a favorable vote by Maddox at City Hall. The indictment lays out several scenarios where this allegedly happened, including with a waste management company, riding sharing company and even an FBI fronted development company.
"Lord knows this was not the kind of Christmas present (Maddox) wanted,” said Peter Butzin, of watchdog group Common Cause Florida.
Butzin has helped push for stronger ethics codes in Tallahassee and said the allegations in the indictments prove the need for stricter rules.
"It's important that we finally lay this issue to rest and that we start doing the business of Tallahassee and its citizens rather than having commissioners lining their pockets,” he said.
With Maddox suspended from office, city leaders said they plan to stay focused on their work at City Hall, not the happenings of the trial. The city has also begun to accept applications for the open seat. As commissioners move forward with that process, some residents said they are reserving judgement until a final verdict is given.
"Until then, I think we should wait and let the city officials that are leading now go on with their jobs,” said Richardson.