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Commissioner Matlow calls for ethics reforms in the wake of prison sentences for Maddox and Carter-Smith

Published: Sep. 10, 2021 at 2:58 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - In the wake of the prison sentences for former City Commissioner Scott Maddox and former Downtown Improvement Authority Executive Director Paige Carter-Smith, City Commissioner Jeremy Matlow is calling for ethics reform.

In a press conference Friday morning, Commissioner Matlow said it’s time to review the City’s best practices.

Maddox was sentenced to five years in prison, while Carter-Smith was sentenced to two years.

Commissioner Matlow proposed six “common sense reforms.”

First, he wants to “close the lobbyist loophole.”

Matlow called on lobbyists to register with the city. He also wants every agenda item at City Commission meetings to disclose the lobbyist registered on the item.

Matlow’s second reform is to “expand whistleblower protections,” giving more power to the city’s Independent Ethics Board.

His third is to end no-bid contracts.

Matlow was one of two dissenting votes on a no-bid sale of land to a hotel developer in July.

Matlow’s fourth reform is to institute a lifetime ban on lobbying in the City of Tallahassee for anyone convicted on honest services fraud.

Maddox and Carter-Smith pled guilty to two counts of honest services fraud and Tallahassee businessman JT Burnette was found guilty of one count of honest services mail fraud.

Commissioner Matlow called for a complete audit of all contracts, politics and personnel decisions made by former City Commissioner Maddox as his fifth reform.

His sixth and final reform asks to create a vendor code of ethics. Matlow says he wants to ensure all vendors involved with the City are operating above board.

The City’s Inspector General’s Office does have whistleblower protectors, but Commissioner Matlow wants those to go through the Independent Ethics Board instead. The City Commission also voted more than a year ago to audit any contracts involving former City Commissioner Maddox; Matlow wants that to go further, extending to personnel.

“It takes more than one person to accomplish the crimes that we saw play out in Tallahassee. The federal exhibits spoke to unregistered lobbying, hand selected staff, and campaign contributor influence that enabled this unethical behavior,” Matlow said. “US district judge Robert Hinkle, who presided over the trial, repeatedly referenced the insidious nature of the crimes. He told us from the bench that the specter of public corruption poisons the entire environment, turning people off from politics, and souring good people who seek to do good work in our community, from even trying to get into the arena.”

The Commissioner is hosting a Zoom Town Hall on the topic, asking for public input, on Oct. 6 at 6 p.m.

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