Across Florida
What's happening on other political blogs?

Suspended South Bay commissioner pleads guilty to Sunshine Law violation

by George Bennett | May 10th, 2013

Four days before he appears on the ballot in a special election in South Bay, suspended city commissioner John Wilson pleaded guilty today to a misdemeanor charge of violating Florida’s Sunshine Law.

The plea might actually enhance Wilson’s chances of returning to the commission dais.

Gov. Rick Scott suspended Wilson and two others in December after they were charged with the Sunshine Law violation. Scott’s office said earlier this week that, regardless of Tuesday’s election results, Wilson would remain suspended until he was “reinstated, or removed from office as a result of a conviction.”

With Wilson’s conviction on the Sunshine Law charge, it would appear that his suspension is no longer in effect.

Scott spokesman John Tupps said the governor’s office has not received official notification of Wilson’s plea. Tupps declined to speculate on what would happen if Wilson wins on Tuesday. Wilson is running against Olivia Anthony-Kerr and Shanique Scott for commission Seat 4

Wilson’s attorney, Reginald Sessions, said his client is also undecided on his political future.

“We haven’t decided yet at this point whether or not it would be in his best interests to withdraw (from Tuesday’s election) or remain on the ballot and see what the outcome of the election is,” said Sessions.

Scott suspended three South Bay elected officials — Wilson, vice mayor Linda Johnson and mayor Shirley Walker-Turner — in December after they were charged with violating the Sunshine Law by agreeing in private to approve $25,139 in vacation pay for former city manager Corey Alston.

Johnson was found guilty in April.

Walker-Turner is scheduled to go to trial June 5. She is on Tuesday’s ballot against former city clerk Virginia Walker for Seat 5.

The Sunshine Law requires public officials to conduct public business in the open. Wilson, Walker-Turner and Johnson did not meet together, but agreed to approve the $25,139 payment in a series of conversations each had with Alston.

“My client, to be honest with you, really didn’t realize because of his actions that he was actually violating the law,” Sessions said. “He didn’t even benefit from this. He didn’t obtain anything from this. There was no self-interest on his part and he was totally up front during the investigation.”

Sessions said the only sanction against Wilson is about $250 in court costs.

“It was just a matter of us dealing with this and being honest about it,” Sessions said of Wilson’s decision to plead guilty. “Now we have to deal with the consequences of it.”

4 Responses to “Suspended South Bay commissioner pleads guilty to Sunshine Law violation”

  1. Searcher1 Says:

    Why am I not surprised?

  2. Ted the Nimble Says:

    A real president doesnt go to sleep and get up the next day to campaign all the while when a US consulate is under attack and our people are being murdered. Some leader!

  3. nike air dunk Says:

    Hello there, You’ve done a great job. I’ll definitely digg it and personally recommend to my friends. I’m confident they will be benefited from this site.

  4. trx equipment Says:

    Thank you for share very good knowledges. Your web is very goodI am impressed by the information that you have on this blog. It shows how well you understand this subject. Bookmarked this page, will come back for more. You, my friend, ROCK! I found just the information I already searched everywhere and just couldn’t find. What a perfect site. Like this website your website is one of my new favs.I like this data presented and it has given me some sort of commitment to succeed for some reason, so keep up the good work!

Florida political tweeters
Video: Politics stories