The daily newspaper believes that County Attorney Alison Rogers committed a crime when she didn’t get the Escambia County Commission to vote for her to help Commissioner Steven Barry get an advisory opinion from the State Ethics Commission.
However, the PNJ had no problem when the county attorney asked the Ethics Commission, on Underhill’s behalf, for legal advice on the commissioner forming a legal defense fund. The legal fund would be a direct financial benefit to the commissioner, offsetting his legal fees. The Board of County Commissioners didn’t vote whether she could get an opinion. No, she did it for Underhill’s personal benefit to avoid future ethics issue for him.
Rogers didn’t ask for a written opinion and got a verbal reply in less than 24 hours. She was told a 1998 opinion would apply and the donations to the fund would be considered gifts and must be reported every three months to the state. Read PNJ, “Ex-Escambia County Commissioner criticizes Doug Underhill’s legal defense fund,” 9/30/17.
Jim Little wrote the article. I’m surprised he didn’t remind his editorial board of the precedent set by Underhill.
Then there’s the secondary attack the Rogers went before the Ethics Commission to “line her pockets.”
In the June agenda, the county attorney made it clear she would stay with FRS, would not participate in any resolution regarding the issue and would withdraw from any legal representation if the issue was litigated. She didn’t try to “line her pockets.”
“The County Attorney is an SMSC employee, but gives notice to the Board that she is not transferring to the 401a program. Further, should the Board authorize any resolution regarding this issue, she is not participating in nor receiving any resolution from the County. Should this issue result in any litigation or further proceedings, the County Attorney may be required to withdraw from representation in order to ensure there is no conflict with Florida Bar Rule 4-1.7(a)(2).”
- County Attorney has helped commissioners get legal opinions from the State Ethics Commission – not just Commissioner Barry.
- The State Ethics Commission knew she was helping Barry and Underhill, not acting on the behalf of the county.
- Rogers made a clear, unequivocal declaration she was NOT transferring to 401(a).