Jacksonville councilmembers raise concerns about investigation into Councilmember LeAnna Cumber
Five city councilmembers are raising concerns about the precedent set by the newly formed special committee investigating Republican mayoral candidate Councilmember LeAnna Cumber.
The committee was established after Action News Jax obtained emails showing Cumber’s husband was involved in a bid during the failed sale of JEA and didn’t mention the relationship on a conflict-of-interest disclosure.
READ: Duval voters split on importance of JEA scandal in mayor’s race
Councilmembers Brenda Priestly Jackson (D-District 10), Matt Carlucci (R-Group 4 At-Large) and Randy DeFoor (R-District 14) led the meeting Tuesday afternoon.
All three said Councilmember LeAnna Cumber should have disclosed her husband’s relationship with JEA Public Power Partners, but they argued City Council shouldn’t get into the business of investigating its own members.
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“If there’s any question as to a councilperson’s behavior this is not the right mechanism,” said DeFoor.
Councilmembers DeFoor and Priestly Jackson served on the original committee that investigated the attempted sale of JEA.
It was Priestly Jackson who requested council members disclose conflicts of interest regarding the sale.
Both councilmembers said the committee was aware of Cumber’s husband’s role, even though it wasn’t disclosed by Cumber herself.
“At the end of the day, in terms of our investigation, that information would have made no difference,” said DeFoor.
Councilmember Carlucci, who previously served on the Florida Commission on Ethics, said he’s not sure if Cumber’s actions rise to the level of an ethical violation.
Ethics complaints are generally handled outside of the public eye, take months if not years to come to a final determination and punishments typically come in the form of fines.
Carlucci said he believes the new special committee is intended to impact the mayor’s race and has been stacked with members biased against Cumber.
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The committee is set to be chaired by Councilmember Rory Diamond (R-District 13) and co-chaired by Nick Howland (R-Group 3 At-Large) – the same councilmembers that called for the investigation in the first place.
“I just have to call it out. But for the mayor’s race, would this committee have been called together? And I don’t believe it would have been,” said Carlucci.
Councilmember Michael Boylan (R-District 6) was also in attendance and expressed many of the same concerns as the other councilmembers present at Tuesday’s meeting.
Boylan is one of the four members serving on the special committee.
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