Health Care

Jackson Health trustee resigns to avoid perceived conflict of interest

Albert Dotson Jr., a partner in the legal firm Bilzin Sumberg Baena Price and Axelrod, resigned from the Public Health Trust that governs Miami-Dade’s public hospital system. In order to remain on Jackson’s board, Dotson and his firm would have been required to no longer represent clients with business before the county.
Albert Dotson Jr., a partner in the legal firm Bilzin Sumberg Baena Price and Axelrod, resigned from the Public Health Trust that governs Miami-Dade’s public hospital system. In order to remain on Jackson’s board, Dotson and his firm would have been required to no longer represent clients with business before the county. Miami Herald Staff

Albert Dotson Jr., a prominent Miami attorney, was willing to volunteer his time as a member of the board that governs the county’s $1.8-billion-a-year public hospital network, Jackson Health System — a position that can require a commitment of more than 40 hours a month.

But he wasn’t ready to give up his livelihood to do it.

Dotson, 56, resigned this month from the seven-member Public Health Trust that governs Jackson because he would have been required to abandon his legal practice, which primarily consists of representing clients with business before Miami-Dade commissioners.

Miami-Dade’s Commission on Ethics and Public Trust rendered the decision in late June, about two weeks after Dotson’s appointment to Jackson’s board, after the attorney requested an opinion.

Jackson’s board works in close partnership with the county commission, which controls the hospital system’s budget and functions. The two panels even meet together once a year.

If Dotson were to appear one day as a virtual colleague of the county commission and then appear on another day lobbying commissioners on a contract, “it is understandable that, upon perceiving those dual roles, a person or entity vying with that lobbyist for the contract award could question the fairness of the process,” said Joe Centorino, executive director of the county’s ethics commission, in his written opinion.

Dotson, who served on Jackson’s board in the 1990s, was subject to the “heightened conflict of interest standard” adopted by Jackson trustees in 2011. That standard, adopted in the wake of a financial crisis that threatened to bankrupt Jackson, requires hospital board members to adhere to a stricter ethical code than most other county officials and employees.

“I’m always willing to offer myself for public service,” Dotson said Wednesday. “But if there is an issue that arises in connection with that, then I don’t want it to create a problem.”

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