Judge Recommends $5,000 Fine, Reprimand And Public Censure In Underhill Ethics Case

August 5, 2022

An administrative law judge has recommended that the Florida Ethics Commission issue an order imposing a public censure, reprimand and a $5,000 fine against Escambia County Commissioner Doug Underhill.

The Ethics Commission found probable cause to believe that Underhill misused his position by publicly sharing or publishing confidential transcripts, including minutes from Escambia County Commission shade meetings. Probable cause also was found to believe the information he disclosed was only available to him as a public officer and gained by reason of his official position.

Judge G. W. Chisenhall said in a recommendation issued Thursday that the transcript release was “the most serious charge” against Underhill and was “reckless and ill-advised”, but the evidence did not establish that his action was corrupt under Florida law. The judge stated his actions did justify a public censure and reprimand.

Chisenhall imposed the $5,000 fine due to Underhill’s nonpayment of legal services to Clark Partington could have represented a conflict of interest. He paid nothing toward the debt in 2018 and 2019 before ultimately making payment after the nonpayment became the subject of an ethics complaint.

Other allegations were dismissed by the Ethics Commission with a finding of no probable cause Those dismissed allegations include that Underhill published his GoFundMe legal defense fund to social media, solicited free legal services from a lobbyist/vendor, accepted free legal services from a lobbyist or vendor, had a conflicting employment or contracted relationship with the Pensacola Sports Association, Inc., and an allegation that Mr. Underhill solicited, and then accepted, reimbursement for travel and expenses from an organization that accepting funding from the county.

The judges order will not become final until it is approved by the Florida Ethics Commission.

Click or tap here to read the entire recommendation.

Comments

18 Responses to “Judge Recommends $5,000 Fine, Reprimand And Public Censure In Underhill Ethics Case”

  1. Swampfox on August 8th, 2022 8:59 am

    TERM LIMITS FOR ALL POLITICIANS !

  2. Citizen on August 7th, 2022 10:15 pm

    JF
    He is not honest. And also just ran his mouth insulting anybody and everybody.
    He tried to keep a Publc Beach Access unopned for himself. And more.
    Read the link.

  3. JF on August 6th, 2022 8:19 pm

    I think this pretty well confirms the old adage that says if an honest man gets elected, the fellow politicians will drum him or her out of office by whatever means it takes!
    Being done locally, as well as nationally!

  4. Mr.Metoo on August 6th, 2022 10:22 am

    This is elementary school politics. Now the bully is crying after he gets bullied. Mr. Underhand has cost the tax payers thousands in legal fees and hid behind being a commissioner. He slanders those with opposing views. Sure he stands up for district 2. Everytime he gets up and walks out of a meeting. I will admit that every commissioner does something good while serving on the board.

  5. Bewildered on August 6th, 2022 10:00 am

    What am I missing? The minutes of all shade meetings have to be made public per Florida Sunshine Law. So why was this even an issue?

  6. SueB on August 6th, 2022 9:51 am

    Who paid his legal fees? The County Commissioners approved that taxpayers will pay for his legal fees. The other 4 county commissioners get away with their underhanded ways.

  7. Bill T on August 6th, 2022 8:53 am

    If you take a look at all the current county commissioners the people of this county should demand all step down simply because they have done absolutely nothing for the benefit of the county and the people who live here!!!!!

  8. Anne on August 6th, 2022 8:49 am

    Underhill will have termed out of office before anything can grind thru the courts of law.

  9. Citizen on August 6th, 2022 2:49 am

    KB
    You haven’t been paying attention.
    What it boils down to is people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones because someone else may pick up and throw a brick.
    There are still pending cases in federal court, where he would turn not over public records.
    He has cost the taxpayer dearly in legal fees.
    These cases started way before he tried to make hay out of a legal annuity retirement fund that cost the taxpayers the same no matter which fund bcc participates in.

  10. CLL on August 6th, 2022 2:38 am

    Thank goodness he finally got caught. Now maybe they will finally get rid of him.

  11. KB on August 5th, 2022 6:51 pm

    @Bob

    You really haven’t paid attention in the 8 years he has been in office then. If he really was abusing his office for his own gain, then in the countless number of law suites that has been thrown his way by a few former Commissioners something would have came to light long before this latest round of mud slinging. The fact is that he is the only commissioner that actually fights for his constituents, while the rest of the commissioners have tried to get rich off of theirs. Maybe ask yourself why the county continues to just approve new developments but never seems to really be interested in taking care of the infrastructure needs. They would rather continue to abuse the current infrastructure by bringing in more housing developments. This county floods so easy anymore and it used to have adequate drainage, our roads and bridges in this county are horrible, but they turn a blind eye to it.

  12. Bob on August 5th, 2022 6:07 pm

    @KB

    idk what you mean. I’ve been hearing about Doug Underhill’s corruption for years. He’s been a commissioner for nearly a decade, and has spent nearly the whole time abusing his office for his own gain at the expense of his constituents.

  13. KB on August 5th, 2022 3:10 pm

    It’s funny how much dirt that has been thrown at Commissioner Underhill since he shined a light on the Retirement fund grab of the rest of the board. Pretty funny how once he shined a light on some of the things the voters should be up in arms over, they have tried everything they could to get him out. Don’t be blind to what is really going on in this county, you should be concerned when there is such a strong push to have a commissioner out of office for doing what he vowed to do and try to clean up the good old boy network that has kept this county down for a long time. The entire Board needs to be outed and a complete fresh group of faces not controlled by some of the deep pockets of the county voted in!

  14. JOHN on August 5th, 2022 1:35 pm

    @ Scott. Question: What has Doug done for District 2? What has he done for the county and small businesses? Cannot wait to hear the answer.

  15. William Reynolds on August 5th, 2022 1:28 pm

    “There is no such thing as a “confidential” minutes from a commissioners meeting.”

    There is. Shade meetings, just mentioned in the article. Most meetings are in the sunshine (referencing Florida’s broad Sunshine Laws). But some meeting are in the shade — not in the sunshine, not open to the public and the transcripts are not immediately available to the public. A court reporter is always present to make an accurate record of what is said.

    Shade meetings are allowed in Florida to discuss pending litigation. No votes are taken.

    The transcripts are later released at the conclusion of the litigation.

  16. Davo on August 5th, 2022 10:40 am

    $5,000.00 for a violation of the public’s trust plus a violation of ethics of his office? Is that strong enough? I wonder just what he got in return…….

  17. hosstie on August 5th, 2022 9:39 am

    GOOD !!!!

  18. Scott on August 5th, 2022 6:59 am

    Underhill is being “punished” for showing the voters the truth. There is no such thing as a “confidential” minutes from a commissioners meeting. Why is Underhill being punished for sharing information with the voter? What are the other commissioners hiding?





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