A complaint has been filed with the state against Manatee County Commissioner Carol Whitmore, citing voting conflict.
The Florida Commission on Ethics complaint, which was filed by Manatee County resident Agatha Mantanes on March 23, states that Whitmore was in voting conflict when she voted in favor of a 720-unit apartment complex in north Manatee County earlier this month. Whitmore’s son-in-law, attorney Scott Rudacille, represented the applicant.
A spokeswoman with the Florida Commission on Ethics on Wednesday morning was not able to confirm or deny that they’ve received the complaint, as complaints are confidential until they are ruled on.
During the March 2 public hearing, Whitmore and the County Attorney’s Office cited a 2011 opinion, which states that “no prohibited conflict of interest exists where a law firm of which a County Commissioner’s son-in-law is a non-equity shareholder represents clients before the County Commission in land use matters.”
But in the complaint, Mantanes contends that Rudacille’s position with Blalock Walters has changed since when the opinion was issued.
“This Commissioner and her son-in-law failed to disclose that his role in the firm changed from Associate to Principle (sic),” she states in the complaint. “She quickly relies on this opinion when she questioned. This Commissioner by way of this loop hole and using the County Attorney’s Office and her friend ‘Attorney Michell (sic) Palmer’ to justify this behavior, which is violating the law.”
On Wednesday morning, Rudacille said he’s not a shareholder with the firm.
“I’ve been a principal ever since I joined the firm,” he said. “Nothing has changed in my status at the firm. It’s the exact scenario that was presented to the ethics commission when we got the opinion.”
Whitmore said she has not received any complaint yet.
“I do not have anything officially,” she said. “The attorney said there was no conflict.”