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Probable cause found in ethics complaint against former Gillum staffer

Photo via Dustin Daniels
Photo via Dustin Daniels(WCTV)
Published: Jan. 25, 2019 at 5:53 PM EST
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By: Mariel Carbone | WCTV Eyewitness News

January 25, 2019

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- The Florida Commission on Ethics has found probable cause that Gillum's former Chief of Staff violated state ethics laws.

A complaint was filed last year against Dustin Daniels, accusing him of misuse of tax payer dollars.

Tallahassee resident Jennings DePriest filed the complaint in connection to a software system that was purchased by the Mayor's Office in 2017. The purchase was approved by Daniels and amounted to roughly $5,000 in tax payer money.

The software, NGP VAN, was primarily used to send email blasts for city events. However, at least four emails pertained to Gillum's political campaign for governor.

An investigation determined Daniels, as well as another city staffer, were responsible for sending all emails on the software.

DePriest said he was not at the hearing because of a prior appointment. However, he said the commission notified him of the findings.

"The violation of public trust by a public official is a serious matter. Especially when that violation involves the misuse of tax payer dollars for personal political gain," said DePriest. I applaud the Florida commission on Ethics for holding Dustin Daniels accountable. Hopefully Mr. Daniels takes responsibility for his wrong doing by settling with the commission quickly without any additional costs to our tax payers."

The complaint was filed back in October, just ahead of the November election in which Daniels was running for Mayor. Daniels said he has no plans to settle this and will take it to an evidentiary hearing.

"This issue has been investigated by the Leon County Sheriff's Office, the state attorney, a grand jury, as well as the Tallahassee Ethics Commission. Each and every review found no wrongdoing. It will now be reviewed through an open process and independent judge, a process that I believe will lead to the same resolution," he said.

The issue of the software purchase became public knowledge in March of 2017 just as Gillum announced his candidacy for Governor. The State Attorney's office investigated the issue but no charges were filed. Gillum repaid the city the money.