MANATEE — An Anna Maria Island activist has reported a potential Government in the Sunshine Law violation against Manatee County commissioners Carol Whitmore and John Chappie after she saw the two of them together Sept. 15 at Beach Bistro.
Save Anna Maria Inc. officer Nancy R. Deal said she submitted an affidavit as part of a complaint to the Holmes Beach Police Department that alleged the two commissioners may have been discussing county business, a violation of the open government law, before a dinner meeting with county Administrator Ed Hunzeker and others.
The affidavit said Deal overheard Whitmore and Hunzeker discussing “builders” or “developers” at the restaurant bar and that Hunzeker said either “not alarm the public” or “not inform the public.”
Deal approached the commissioners — Chappie was sitting with them — and asked about “some kind of Sunshine issue.”
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Deal said she didn’t expect her complaint to become public knowledge.
“I don’t know how this got out,” Deal said Monday night. “I have no other comment at this time.”
Whitmore and Chappie said they agreed to go to dinner together following their visit to an Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce meeting earlier in the day. Island business owner David Teitelbaum and Whitmore’s husband, Andre Renard, also attended.
The commissioners denied discussing business that may come before the commission, though Whitmore couldn’t remember what she discussed with Hunzeker.
“There was nothing said,” Chappie said. “I wasn’t even talking to them. I was at the end of the bar reading my e-mail. ... When she (Deal) approached, I literally raised my head from my BlackBerry and said, ‘I’m not talking.’”
Whitmore, a longtime island resident, said she and Deal have a history, stemming from Whitmore’s failed attempt to join Save Anna Maria several years ago.
“I haven’t done anything wrong,” Whitmore said. “My husband and I went with them to dinner. We were at the bar, and I was next to Ed Hunzeker, and Chappie was talking to Teitelbaum. ... It’s a personal agenda.
“I know the rules.”
Holmes Beach Police Chief Jay Romine said his department is investigating the complaint and will take statements from those involved. The police department will refer the matter to the State Attorney’s Office if warranted.