TALLAHASSEE — The Florida Commission on Ethics recently held its December meeting and in closed session took action on 23 matters. Two of those involved former Walton County officials.
The commission considered a complaint filed against former Walton County Commissioner Cindy Meadows alleging misuse of her position when she was a District 5 County Commissioner.
No probable cause was found on the three allegations against her that she misused her position to act without authority to expand her duties to hire and terminate county employees; that she ordered the planning director to serve a local business with a cease and desist order in response to complaints from her friends and political supporters about the business’s activities; or that she misused her position to direct the removal of a recreational vehicle from a lot that is visible from her street.
All of these allegations were levied against her just days before the election in which she lost to Tony Anderson.
"I knew the complaint filed 30 days before the primary election was politically motivated by my opponent's supporters," said Meadows. "I always knew it had no merit. I thank all the witnesses who told the truth."
However, another former Walton County official did not fare as well.
The ethics commission adopted a settlement agreement between the Commission Advocate and Architect Anthony Vallee, a former Walton County Zoning Board member.
The agreement found that Vallee violated the ethics laws by providing architectural services in his private capacity to a developer who had appeals before the board, creating a continuing or frequently recurring conflict between his private interests and the performance of his public duties or an impediment to the full and faithful discharge of his public duties.
The commission recommended a civil penalty of $1,000 and public censure and reprimand be imposed by Gov. Rick Scott.
This complaint against Vallee was brought by WaterSound resident Kay Brief on April 16, 2016, for voting conflicts.
Brief stated that Vallee was an appointed public officer who was ruling on a case involving special private gain or loss for a business associate or principal by whom he was retained, and he did not disclose his interest in the matter as required.
Brief noted that Vallee did not file a written memorandum in advance with the person taking minutes at the meeting, nor did he disclose his involvement orally at the meeting as required by the law.
At the time, Vallee was retained as the architect for the new Seagrove Village Market.
At the meeting in question, the developer, George Hartley, wanted the board to reverse the Walton County Planning Department's decision enforcing the required 250-foot buffer between commercial and neighborhood preservation needed for the project. Vallee voted to hear the appeal at the meeting of Feb. 26, 2016.