Florida

Ethics complaint filed over FDLE controversy

A day after State Attorney Willie Meggs took a pass on investigating the ouster of Gerald Bailey as commissioner of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, a Villages resident asked the Florida Commission on Ethics to take a look at what happened.

“This is a complaint as to whether it is ethical for Gov. Rick Scott of Florida and the State of Florida to fire Jerry Bailey ... in secret meetings not open to the public and without the knowledge and consent of Florida State Cabinet officials,” Charles Swofford stated in the complaint.

Swofford, a Connecticut retiree and registered Democrat, is no expert on ethics. But under Florida law, he doesn’t have to be. Any person can file an ethics complaint as long as it stems from factual allegations and it is not malicious. Swofford said he filed his complaint after reading reports of Bailey’s dismissal in newspapers.

In October, Swofford filed a complaint against Bernard Nash, a partner of the Washington, D.C., law firm Dickstein Shapiro for allegedly violating state law in lobbying Attorney General Pam Bondi. Swofford said he hasn’t heard back from the Commission on Ethics on that one.

His latest complaint is a no-brainer, Swofford told the Herald/Times.

“It’s clear as day that this was done without the consent of the Cabinet,” Swofford said. “This is a clear breakdown of state government.”

He also filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI.

“If people can do things like that then the law is a joke,” Swofford wrote the DOJ. “I would like this matter investigated and responsible parties dealt with. Once again This is out of control.”

Swofford joins a Land O’Lakes man, Jim Frissell, who filed a complaint with the FBI last week, and sent it to Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam. That’s in addition to two Tallahassee nonprofits, Integrity Florida and Progress Florida, who asked for criminal investigations of Bailey’s ouster two weeks ago and St. Petersburg attorney Matthew Weidner, whose request to Meggs was declined.

  Comments