Escambia County Commissioner Doug Underhill shared this email with the media that he sent his administrative assistants this morning at 7:02 a.m.:
Although I have not yet gotten the last arrangements in place to create the legal defense fund, I am getting a lot of public interest in donating to it. It is imperative that this very political matter be clearly separate from the conduct of business of the District 2 Commissioners Office. The following guidance is expected to be followed without exception:
1. Do not discuss the Legal Defense Fund among yourselves or other employees, lobbyists or vendors while on County property or while on County time. While this is not a “campaign issue” per se, I expect you to apply those same rules in the conduct of your duties to the people of Escambia County. You have heard it many times: “This office is not a place for politics, it is a place for governance.”
2. As with every subject, you are encouraged to remain silent or to speak as freely as you see fit. I do ask that you remember that you represent this office at all times. Therefore, at all times your words should be accurate. If you are doing it right, your words should leave people more informed. While those words may anger some, inciting anger should never be your goal.
3. The donations to this fund will constitute personal gifts to me under Florida Law and will be reported as such under Florida Statutes Section 112. Under no circumstances are you to participate in the soliciting, collection, or handling of these funds. This is a very specific issue with a very specific purpose. It does not in any way modify my previous guidance that my office does not accept gifts or services from constituents. I expect you to continue to follow that guidance as directed.
4. Inevitably, someone will call asking how to donate money. I want you to respond in this way, “Commissioner Underhill is grateful for your support. However, he has instructed his office to refrain from any participation in the Legal Defense Fund. He asks that you contact him directly at 850-281-1981 to make arrangements.” Politely and professionally end the call. Do not allow yourself to be drawn into a dialog and do not tell me about the call.
5. Likewise, someone is likely to call to criticize me. I want you to respond in this way, “That is a political matter between Commissioner Underhill and two former Commissioners. This office will play no part in it, so I cannot discuss it with you. If you have an issue within the County or district that you would like help with, I am more than happy to help you.” If the caller persists, repeat the above one time. If they continue to persist, end the call with, “I am not allowed to talk about politics at work, so this conversation is over”, and hang up the phone.
6. The intent of those who are doing this is to distract and divert me from my efforts to reform this County. I will not allow that to happen. Every moment you spend thinking of this matter is a moment that we are not working toward the goals of this office and the needs of our constituents. The coming months will require extreme mission focus and tactical patience. I cannot think of two better people to be running my office than the team I have today.
Sent from my iPad
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