Inspector General: West Palm Beach Ethics Probe

As reported in the PB Post on 9/27/13 “Inspector General: West Palm Beach should not have repaid Mitchell in ethics probe.” This writer agrees . Here are the facts of the case, made available by requesting a Public Records Request from the PBC COE.

Commissioner Mitchell

On Dec.8, 2011 the PBC COE received a complaint,along with a compact disk (CD) concerning Commissioner Mitchell, and upon examination of the the disk an initial inquiry was begun.

On Dec.30,2011 the COE filed a Memorandum of Legal Sufficiency, recommending that a formal investigation be initiated under case # C12-001.
COE staff believes there was reasonable, trustworthy facts and circumstances for the COE to conclude that Kimberly Mitchell, a WPB City Commissioner, violated Section 2-443 (a) (1-2) Misuse of public office or employment, by using resources of an on duty City employee to resolve an issue concerning her personal, residential Comcast service.

Further, staff believed there was sufficient evidence to find that Commissioner Mitchell violated section 2-443 (b) Corrupt Misuse of official position.

On Feb.2,2012 the complaint was heard by the COE in executive session. Present were Commissioners Rogers, Harbison, Reinhart, Farach, and Fiore.

Commissioner Reinhart disclosed that Commissioner Mitchell was a friend, who referred clients to him, and he represented a brother of one of her close friends.

Commissioner Harbison disclosed Commissioner Mitchell’s mother was a former client.

Here is how the commissioners voted to continue the investigation:

  • Commissioner Reinhart: No probable cause count 1 & 2
  • Commissioner Harbison No probable cause count 1 & 2
  • Commissioner Rogers No probable cause count 1 & 2
  • Commissioner Fiore Probable cause count 1 & 2
  • Commissioner Farach Probable cause count 1, No probable cause count 2

At no time did any Palm Beach County Commissioner on Ethics, investigator, or county staff ever declare that Commissioner Mitchell was innocent, or absolved of any wrong doing. They just voted to not continue the investigation.

Commissioner Mitchell, not content with receiving a walk, then had the audacity to present the city (taxpayers) with her attorney’s bill of $7,325.00 which Commissioners Robinson, Materio, Moffitt, and James approved at a city commission meeting without any commissioner making a single comment.

Residents upset with the PBC COE decision filed a complaint against them with the Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability (OPPAGA) which is reviewing the policies, and has so far reported the commission needs to sharpen its methods of handling investigations and hearings. Is it a coincidence that Commissioners Reinhart and Harbison are no longer with the PBC COE, along with Commissioner Farach who allowed them to vote on the Kimberly Mitchell/ Comcast issue after they made their disclosures?

Residents are upset with the decision of the Commission on Ethics, so who do we turn to for help? I turn to the Inspector General Office. Commissioner Mitchell is 1 of 5 commissioners who support the lawsuit against the IG. The story above is one reason the WPB Commissioners refuse to stop the lawsuit. Stop funding the IG and she will stop looking into their misdeeds. Three commissioners, Mitchell, Materio, and Moffitt are up for re-election in March 2014. They need to go. If you have read this far, please continue and read the Inspector General’s report to the city of WPB.