The Florida Commission on Ethics last week dismissed for lack of probable cause a complaint filed earlier this year against Mexico Beach Mayor Al Cathey.


The Florida Commission on Ethics last week dismissed for lack of probable cause a complaint filed earlier this year against Mexico Beach Mayor Al Cathey.



The complaint was filed by resident Bill Fauth, alleging that Cathey had violated Florida ethics laws in the awarding by the city of proposed Parker House construction to Cathey Construction, of which the mayor owns a 9 percent interest.



Fauth alleged that in the awarding of the bid Cathey had violated ethics laws pertaining to conflict of interest and prohibitions against elected officials conducting business with their agency.



While the Commission’s Advocate found that several of those provisions in law could pertain in the case, they found that several exemptions and other factors weighed in Cathey’s favor.



Specifically, that he had made his conflict publicly known and signed some, if not all, the required forms thereto.



Cathey was the best bidder of two on the Parker House work and was selected by the full City Council while Cathey was not present during a meeting.



Further, the advocate stated there was no evidence Cathey used his position to sway the vote.



The advocate also stated that the “sole source” rule in awarding government contracts may also apply as Cathey Construction is the “only construction company in Mexico Beach that specializes in commercial construction and is bonded for municipal construction projects.”



Cathey declined to comment on the specifics of the complaint, but said the outcome and final verdict from the full Commission on Ethics “was what it was.”



“I respect the process, we have a process for these kinds of things,” Cathey said. “They went through the process and found nothing there.”



Fauth maintained that the fundamental point he made in his complaint remained unresolved; that the Parker House project, once changed eight months ago from a historic renovation project to a straightforward construction project should have been put out for a round of sealed bids.



Once the scope was changed, Fauth contended, the project should have been re-bid, an issue that went back and forth between the city officials and the city attorney for several months.