Boca mayor responds to Post's investigation - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Boca mayor responds to Post's investigation

There's no secret here, that's what the Mayor of Boca Raton claims, after a Palm Beach Post investigation uncovered what it calls "secret financial ties" between Mayor Susan Haynie and the city's largest commercial property owner.  

City council members, along with the city's attorney, met Monday to discuss the investigation. 
In a sit down interview with Contact 5, Mayor Susan Haynie insisted several times that she did nothing wrong, and that she was told by the Palm Beach County Commission on Ethics, there was no voting conflict. 
But the question we and many of the city council members had, was why did the city attorney fight so hard to get that opinion, the one that said there was not voting conflict. Records show she went back and forth with Ethics investigators for months. 
"There seems to have been a lot of political spin and not factual information regarding what this opinion says," said Haynie. 
The opinion, given to her in 2013, said she had no conflict of interest when it came to voting on issues related to the Batmasians, the largest commercial property owners in Boca. According to the Post, the Batmasians bought 1400 units in a condo controlled by the Tivoli Master's Association. Haynie and her husband started a company that managed the property several years ago, and have been collecting $12,000 a year on it.
We asked the Mayor, why she didn't disclose any of that money on state financial forms. First, she said that the disclosure form didn't have a place to disclose it, because it only tells you to list business interests in certain categories. "Property management doesn’t fall in any of those categories," said Haynie. Then, she explained that because it was her husband's company, she didn't have to. Contact 5 explained that many would roll their eyes at thinking she didn't profit from her husband's company, Hayne replied, "The perception in some cases can cloud the actual facts and truths."
But the council Monday, was more concerned with how the Ethics commission got to that no conflict opinion. 
A first draft opinion given to the city attorney, said there was no voting conflict, but "an appearance of impropriety," and that the official should refrain from voting.
The city attorney says she responded to that opinion, by explaining that state law says the city official has to vote, even if there is an appearance of impropriety. She explained state law says an official must vote if there's no conflict of interest.
A second similar opinion was issued after that, and then set for discussion at a Commission on Ethics board meeting in 2013. But the city attorney says, before they were set to discuss it, they had more questions, so they tabled it.  She says she never challenged the second opinion, just gave needed clarification, so the commission could make a decision. 
A third and final opinion from the Commission on Ethics said there was no conflict or appearance of impropriety.
We asked the Mayor if she felt she had done anything unethical, "No, I have not done anything unethical, I followed the process very closely and clearly."
But the opinion, it's worth noting, doesn't specifically mention of the company's names or the mayors. When the city attorney sought the opinion on behalf of the Mayor, she did so anonymously. 
Contact 5 questioned the mayor on why her name was left out of any documents when the city attorney sought out this opinion. Mayor Haynie said that it was the city attorney's recommendation and the city attorney would address it at the meeting. She never did.
As for the city council, they made several recommendations Monday, saying that all ethics opinions sought should be made public on the website from now on and none should be anonymous. 
They said they would pick up the discussion at a different time. 
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