Ethics board clears Doral councilwoman

An ethics complaint against Doral Councilwoman Sandra Ruiz has been dismissed.

The Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics and Public Trust found no probable cause in a complaint filed against Ruiz by local activist Felipe Madrigal in February.

In his complaint, Madrigal accused Ruiz of using her position to push for a settlement in a lawsuit against the city — a lawsuit filed by former Doral police officer Tony Rodriguez, who is a friend and political supporter of Ruiz.

According to an ethics commission memo, an ethics investigator interviewed the former Doral city attorney and a private attorney retained by the city through the Florida League of Cities, both of whom said they did not feel Ruiz had exploited her position by involving herself in the litigation.

“There is insufficient evidence to find that Councilwoman Ruiz violated the Ethics Code as it relates to the Tony Rodriguez lawsuit,” reads the ethics commission memorandum. “Being a friend or political ally of the plaintiff, in and of itself, does not preclude the councilwoman from participating in matters involving the lawsuit.”

On Thursday, Ruiz said the commission had done its due diligence.

“It’s what I expected because from the beginning I understood that nothing inappropriate had occurred,” she said.

This is second time Madrigal has filed a complaint against Ruiz that was dismissed. A 2009 complaint claiming she failed to disclose conflicts of interest was closed the same way.

“This isn’t the first time he’s done this, and I’m sure it’s not going to be the last,” Ruiz said.

Madrigal said he was shocked with the conclusion, maintaining that Ruiz should not have been attending closed meetings to discuss the litigation.

He pointed to a section of the memo that states former city attorney John Herin told the investigator Ruiz repeatedly asked him about the status of the lawsuit, inquiring about it on a monthly basis and asking why it wasn’t settling.

“She was deeply involved on something she shouldn’t have been,” he said. “in my book, she should have at least recused herself.”

Follow @joeflech on Twitter.

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