Ingram files Florida Bar Ethics Complaint against Lee

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Enough is enough. The culture of corruption and abuse of power by bureaucrats and elected officials must stop.

By Chris Ingram

Having watched the unfolding saga known as the Hillsborough County Commission the last few years, I have begun to wonder if you could write fiction as good as this. I mean seriously folks, we’ve got a commissioner who was convicted in civil court of sexual harassment (which county taxpayers are on the hook for to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars), a county administrator and county attorney who allegedly gave themselves secret pay-raises, and now we discover the same two clowns were inappropriately collecting e-mails involving them and an ongoing Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) investigation. These people could make Congress blush.

I for one have had enough.

We elect the bozos who hire (and have the authority to fire) these people. So ultimately ”we the people” are to blame if we wonder why these court jesters are still around come Friday.

Having watched the county commissioners do next to nothing (with the exception of Mark Sharpe up to this point), I took this issue into my own hands and have filed the following complaint against Hillsborough County Attorney Renee Lee with the Florida Bar.

If you too have had enough, contact your county commissioner at (813) 272-5660 and tell them to fire Pat Bean and Renee Lee — and if they don’t, tell them you plan to fire them come next election whatever they are running for!

The complaint against Ms. Lee is below. If there were an organization that oversaw the “ethics” of Pat Bean, I’d be filing a complaint against her too.

 The Florida Bar Inquiry/Complaint Form

PART ONE:  Your Name/Address: Chris Ingram,  Tampa, Fla. 33615

Attorney’s Name: Renee Lee Address: 601 E. Kennedy Blvd., Tampa  State: Fla.  Phone:813-272-5670  Zip Code: 33602

PART TWO: The specific thing or things I am complaining about are:

Hillsborough County Attorney Renee Lee in her capacity as County Attorney, engaged in activities which have been referred to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and which are in violation of the public trust expected of attorneys-at-law as outlined in the Rules of Professional Conduct of the Florida Bar. It is in my opinion, that upon thorough review of the actions of Ms. Lee in her capacity as Attorney for the County of Hillsborough, the Florida Bar will determine that Ms. Lee was in fact in Violation of a Rule of Professional Conduct for her role in her and/or County Administrator Pat Bean’s request for e-mails involving an ongoing audit and about a Florida Dep. Of Law Enforcement inquiry into Ms. Bean and Ms. Lee’s secret pay raises. Clearly Ms. Lee has a personal interest in the FDLE matter and audit issue in as much as she was a potential target of both issues.

More specifically, I allege Ms. Lee is in violation of, Rule 4-8.4 Misconduct which states:

A lawyer shall not:

(a) violate or attempt to violate the Rules of Professional Conduct, knowingly assist or induce another to do so, or do so through the acts of another;

Through her actions with County Administrator Pat Bean, it will be found that Ms. Lee violated 4-8.4(a)

(b) commit a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer in other respects;

Through her actions with County Administrator Pat Bean, it will be found that Ms. Lee violated 4-8.4(b)

(c) engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation; and,

Through her actions with County Administrator Pat Bean, it will be found that Ms. Lee violated 4-8.4(c)

(e) state or imply an ability to influence improperly a government agency or official;

Through her actions with County Administrator Pat Bean, it will be found that Ms. Lee violated 4-8.4(e)

Specific to this complaint, I note that the St. Petersburg Times (Mar. 10, 2010) has reported:

“However, Lee never addressed comments made by Commissioner Rose Ferlita earlier in the meeting. News accounts have noted that Ferlita read e-mails from one of Barnes’ employees during a January meeting in which she was dressing down the auditor.

Ferlita said Wednesday that Lee gave her the e-mails. And she said later that Lee volunteered them, perhaps while trying to be helpful. Lee declined comment after the meeting.”

Clearly if true, Ms. Lee’s actions are in violation of this section.

Furthermore, as it relates to Ms. Bean’s request for e-mails regarding the audit, I believe the ethics committee will find Ms. Lee in violation of RULE 4-1.2 OBJECTIVES AND SCOPE OF REPRESENTATION (d) Criminal or Fraudulent Conduct. A lawyer shall not counsel a client to engage, or assist a client, in conduct that the lawyer knows or reasonably should know is criminal or fraudulent.

The key part of this section is what a reasonably attorney should know. Through her actions with County Administrator Pat Bean, I believe it will be found that Ms. Lee violated 4-1.2(d) in as much as Ms. Lee should have known that the request for the e-mails (which Ms. Bean acknowledges receiving) was inappropriate.

If a lawyer comes to know or reasonably should know that a client expects assistance not permitted by the Rules of Professional Conduct or other law or if the lawyer intends to act contrary to the client’s instructions, the lawyer must consult with the client regarding the limitations on the lawyer’s conduct. See rule 4-1.4(a)(5).

Again, the key part of this section is what a reasonably attorney should know. Through her actions with County Administrator Pat Bean, I believe it will be found that Ms. Lee violated 4-1.4(a)(5) in as much as she should have known her actions or those requested of her were in violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct in as  much as she should have advised Ms. Bean that her request for e-mails involving an ongoing audit and about a Florida Dep. Of Law Enforcement inquiry into Ms. Bean and Ms. Lee’s secret pay raises.

According to the Florida Bar, RULE 4-8.4 MISCONDUCT  comments suggest that “Lawyers holding public office assume legal responsibilities going beyond those of other citizens. A lawyer’s abuse of public office can suggest an inability to fulfill the professional role of attorney.”

I believe the position Ms. Lee holds qualifies, and that her abuse of the responsibilities she holds as County Attorney demonstrate her inability to fulfill the professional role of attorney when using even the most minimal standards of application as set forth by the Florida Bar.

PART THREE: The witnesses in support of my allegations are: [see attached sheet].

Ken Hagan, Commissioner

Rose Ferlita, Commissioner

Kevin White, Commissioner

Al Higginbotthom, Commissioner

Jim Norman, Commissioner

Mark Sharpe, Commissioner

Kevin Beckner, Commissioner

Pat Bean, County Administrator

Jim Barnes, County Auditor

Florida Department of Law Enforcement

 PART FOUR: Under penalty of perjury, I declare the foregoing facts are true, correct and complete to the best of my knowledge.

_____________________________

Christopher Ingram

____ — ____ — ________

(End of complaint as submitted)

Chris Ingram is the president and founder of 411 Communications a corporate and political communications firm, and publisher of www.IrreverentView.com. Ingram is a frequent pundit on Fox News and CNN, and has written opinion columns for the Washington Times, UPI, Front Page Florida, and National Review online. E-mail him at: [email protected].

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