MILTON — If a mayor sends out emails to their city council and no one responds, has a violation of the Sunshine Law been committed?
The answer, according to the First Judicial Circuit State Attorney’s Office, is no.
Milton Mayor Heather Lindsay, who on May 16 turned herself in for a possible Sunshine Law violation, has been cleared of any wrongdoing.
“We have determined that no violation has occurred,” Chief Assistant State Attorney Greg Marcille said in a letter to Lindsay sent out as a news release.
Lindsay self-reported a possible violation after she sent out a memorandum in which she discussed the renaming of the city’s community center. The memo went to all members of the Milton City Council and Lindsay, as a voting member of the council in the case of ties, subject to the requirements of the Sunshine Law.
“It should be noted that the memorandum is the only concern and there absolutely is no evidence or indication that you ever had any improper conversation with any member of the City Council,” Marcille said.
“Further, there is no evidence that any member of the council responded back to you concerning the issues raised in the memorandum,” Marcille’s letter said.
Marcille also noted the memorandum was maintained as a public record and the renaming of the Community Center was addressed at a public meeting.
“The law is clear that a council member or commissioner may send a written report to other members on a subject that will be discussed at a public meeting without violating the Sunshine law, if, prior to the meeting, there is no interaction related to the report among the members, the report is maintained as a public record, and the report is not being used as a substitute for action at a public meeting,” the news release said.
The city decided to rename the Community Center after former Mayor Guy Thompson, for whom the building had been named, pleaded guilty plea to wire fraud and tax evasion in connection with the United Way of Santa Rosa.
First enacted in 1995, the Florida Sunshine Law is a series of laws designed to help ensure the public has access to the public records of governmental bodies.