STATE OF FLORIDA
COMMISSION ON ETHICS
In re T. BUTLER WALKER, )
Respondent. ) Complaint No. 92-30
) Final Order No. COE ____
FINAL ORDER AND PUBLIC REPORT
This matter came before the Commission on Ethics on the Recommended Order rendered in this matter on January 19, 1994 by the Division of Administrative Hearings' Hearing Officer. The Hearing Officer recommends that the Commission issue its public report and final order finding that Respondent violated Sections 112.313(7)(a) and 112.3143(3), Florida Statutes. She also recommends a civil penalty of $2,000. Respondent filed his exceptions to the Hearing Officer's Conclusions of Law and Recommended Penalty.
Having reviewed the Recommended Order, the Respondent's Exceptions, and the record of the public hearing of this complaint, and having heard arguments of counsel for the Respondent and the Commission's Advocate, the Commission makes the following findings, conclusions, rulings, and recommendations:
STANDARDS FOR REVIEW
Under Section 120.57(1)(b)10, Florida Statutes, an agency may reject or modify the conclusions of law and interpretations of administrative rules contained in the recommended order. However, the agency may not reject or modify findings of fact made by the Hearing Officer unless a review of the entire record demonstrates that the findings were not based on competent, substantial evidence or that the proceedings on which the findings were based did not comply with the essential requirements of law. See, e.g., Freeze v. Dept. of Business Regulation, 556 So. 2d 1204 (Fla. 5th DCA 1990); and Florida Department of Corrections v. Bradley, 510 So. 2d 1122 (Fla. 1st DCA 1987). Competent, substantial evidence has been defined by the Florida Supreme Court as such evidence as is "sufficiently relevant and material that a reasonable mind would accept it as adequate to support the conclusions reached." DeGroot v. Sheffield, 95 So. 2d 912, 916 (Fla. 1957).
The agency may not reweigh the evidence, resolve conflicts therein, or judge the credibility of witnesses, because those are matters within the sole province of the hearing officer. Heifetz v. Dept. of Business Regulation, 475 So. 2d 1277, 1281 (Fla. 1st DCA 1985). Consequently, if the record of the DOAH proceedings discloses any competent, substantial evidence to support a finding of fact made by the Hearing Officer, the Commission is bound by that finding.
RULING ON RESPONDENT'S EXCEPTIONS TO
CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
Respondent filed a general exception to the Hearing Officer's Conclusions of Law. Because we conclude that the Hearing Officer's application of Sections 112.313(7)(a) and 112.3143(3), Florida Statutes, to the facts stipulated to by the parties and found by the Hearing Officer is correct, Respondent's exception is rejected.
Upon review of the record before us, we conclude that the findings of the Hearing Officer are based upon competent substantial evidence or evidence stipulated to by the Respondent and the Advocate and that the D.O.A.H. proceedings complied with the essential requirements of law. Therefore, the Findings of Fact set forth in the Recommended Order are approved, adopted, and incorporated herein by reference.
The conclusions of law are approved, adopted, and incorporated herein by reference.
Accordingly, the Commission on Ethics finds that the Respondent violated Sections 112.313(7)(a) and 112.3143, Florida Statutes.
Based upon the recommendation of the Advocate that a $500 civil penalty be imposed for Respondent's violation of Sections 112.313(7)(a) and $1500 for his violation of Section 112.3143(3), the Hearing Officer recommended that Respondent be required to pay a civil penalty of $2,000. Contrary to Respondent's claim that the recommended penalty is inconsistent with similar previous cases, we find her recommendation to be appropriate.
Having found that the Respondent, T. Butler Walker, as a member of the Jefferson County Commission, violated Sections 112.313(7)(a) and 112.3143(3), Florida Statutes, it is the recommendation of the Commission on Ethics that a civil penalty of $2,000 be imposed upon the Respondent.
ORDERED by the State of Florida Commission on Ethics meeting in public session on June 2, 1994.
Joel K. Gustafson
THIS ORDER CONSTITUTES FINAL AGENCY ACTION. ANY PARTY WHO IS ADVERSELY AFFECTED BY THIS ORDER HAS THE RIGHT TO SEEK JUDICIAL REVIEW UNDER SECTION 120.68, FLORIDA STATUTES, BY FILING A NOTICE OF ADMINISTRATIVE APPEAL PURSUANT TO RULE 9.110 FLORIDA RULES OF APPELLATE PROCEDURE, WITH THE CLERK OF THE COMMISSION ON ETHICS, 2822 REMINGTON GREEN CIRCLE, SUITE 101, P.O. DRAWER 15709, TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA 32317-5709; AND BY FILING A COPY OF THE NOTICE OF APPEAL ACCOMPANIED BY THE APPLICABLE FILING FEES WITH THE APPROPRIATE DISTRICT COURT OF APPEAL. THE NOTICE OF ADMINISTRATIVE APPEAL MUST BE FILED WITHIN 30 DAYS OF THE DATE THIS ORDER IS RENDERED.
cc: Mr. Mark S. Levine, Attorney for Respondent
Mr. Stuart Wilson-Patton, Commission Advocate
Mr. David Mignano, Complainant
Honorable Susan B. Kirkland, Hearing Officer
Division of Administrative Hearings