The Florida Commission on Ethics met on July 24 to consider and vote on Gene Valentino’s ethics complaints against Sheriff David Morgan. The Commission voted that there was no probable cause to believe that Sheriff Morgan committed any violation of Florida’s Code of Ethics.
Valentino failed to provide any evidence to support his allegation that Sheriff David Morgan used Escambia County Sheriff’s Office resources, specifically video equipment and employee time, to produce a campaign video in favor of Doug Underhill, even though the former Escambia County Commissioner said in a sworn complaint that he had records to support it.
When the Commission on Ethics Investigator questioned Valentino about the basis for his allegation, he admitted that he did not have any personal knowledge of the Sheriff’s involvement in production of the video. When the Investigator asked Valentino to produce the “records” that he claimed to have, Valentino stated that he did not have any documents or similar records, but he believed that the “verbal record” of what witnesses told him was sufficient.
The former county commissioner provided the Investigator with the names of six witnesses that he claimed had knowledge of the incident. When the Investigator questioned the six witnesses identified by Valentino, none had any information to support Valentino’s claims. In addition, the Sheriff’s Office provided records to show the allegation was false.
After evaluation of the investigation, the Commission’s Advocate stated: “The allegation against Respondent [Sheriff] is based solely on hearsay. The investigation did not reveal any corroborating evidence to support Complainant’s [Valentino’s] hearsay statement.”
￼Based on the Advocate’s recommendation, the Board voted that there was no probable cause to believe the Sheriff had committed any violation of the Florida’s Code of Ethics. As a result of the Commission’s vote, the entire complaint lodged by Valentino against the Sheriff was dismissed.