From IN reporter Franklin Hayes:
Santa Rosa County Commissioner Gordon Goodin has filed a gift disclosure to the state’s ethics board four years after a free trip to a friend’s private island home in Guanaja, Honduras. The documents given to the Independent News also include a receipt for $6,793 in firefighting equipment that Goodin said he donated to the island community.
Goodin mailed the documents to the Florida Commission on Ethics a week after reading a prepared statement during a County Commission meeting on July 9.
Goodin apologized to his constituents and his fellow commissioners and said he was prepared to accept the punishment for what he called a “technical violation.”
A tearful Goodin, whose voice initially began to waiver while recalling a lightning strike that nearly destroyed his home in 2000, said he was invited to the cay because of his government experience with storm recovery during 2004 and 2005 and the lightning incident. Goodin wrote that his friend wanted him to see the plight of the local people caused by the devastation of Hurricane Mitch in 1998.
The island’s nearly 10,000 residents walk or boat to most daily appointments because the mountainous region lacks transportation infrastructure.
According to the report, Goodin flew with his wife to Honduras on Bill Pullum’s private jet and stayed there for four days at no cost. After the trip, the commissioner and his wife purchased oxygen masks from a vendor in Fairhope and donated them to the Honduran community’s fire department.
Goodin wrote, “Four years later, and after talking to hundreds of people about our trip to Guanaja, it has come to my attention that I should have filed a gift report with the Florida Ethics Commission.”
For some citizens, the previously unreported trip cast a shadow of speculation over the County Commission’s recent purchase of 90 acres for $3 million. Pullum owned the 90-acre property that is now slated to become an industrial park.
Goodin, however, said he did nothing wrong in his approval of the land purchase.
“There are those that would argue that because of my friendship with Bill Pullum, I should have recused myself this spring from the vote to purchase his industrially zoned property on State Road 87 and I-10. I disagree. I’ve had no actual or pending business transactions with Bill since before I took office. There is and was no personal gain and there is and was no conflict of interest. Simply put there is and was nothing improper about this vote,” Goodin said at the commission meeting. “If the vote were held again today, my vote for the purchase would be the same.”
Commission meeting web link:
Read filing: Goodin_form1_41220_25693