Abruzzo asks for meeting with PBC ethics boardby Jennifer Sorentrue | April 9th, 2013
State Sen. Joseph Abruzzo, D-Wellington, has called for a meeting with the Palm Beach County Ethics Commission, saying it has “never been more apparent” that an audit is needed to review how the three-year-old board “conducts itself.”
The Legislature’s Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability, known as OPPAGA, said last month that it had launched a review of the commission’s $500,000 budget, its operating procedures and the methods it uses to enforce the county’s ethics rules. Abruzzo asked the Senate president’s office to order the audit.
During a meeting last week, Ethics Commissioner Ronald Harbison alleged that Abruzzo called for the audit because the board did not hire his legislative aide and former boss to serve as its new executive director.
In a letter sent Monday to Ethics Commission Chairman Manuel Farach, Abruzzo said he asked for the audit on Feb. 13. His aide, Philip Massa, did not interview for the commission’s executive director job until March 21.
Massa was notified on April 1 that he was not chosen for the position, Abruzzo said in the letter.
“It has never been more apparent to me that an audit is necessary to obtain information and have a thorough review for how the board conducts itself,” Abruzzo wrote in the letter. “It is irresponsible that someone in a position representing high ethical standards would make allegations in contradiction to a factual timeline without making any attempt to verify the negative assertions.”
Abruzzo said it is “imperative” for the county’s ethics commission to be “properly trained, free from influence and one that never holds prejudice.”
Abruzzo requested a meeting with the board at the end of the state’s legislative session.