Opinion By Jan Bergemann
February 13, 2006
show that the Florida Commission On Ethics has a pretty bad track
record in finding anything wrong with the ethics of some of our
we were not aware that the people doing the investigating would ignore
the actual allegations brought in the complaint -- but would instead "investigate"
things that were never under scrutiny!
complaint alleged that:
Adams is using his influence as the chairman of the Advisory Council
on Condominiums to suppress public testimony directed against
Community Associations Institute interests -- for example, the
education courses paid for by Florida condo-owners.
was alleged that Adams was trying to see to it that the official
minutes didn't reflect badly on the CAI, a trade organization of
which he is a member!
was alleged that Mr. Adams is using his influence as chairman of the
Council to promote the agenda of his law firm and the Community
complaint never alleged that:
Adams was part of the original group of people responsible for
signing the contract. Everybody knows that the initial contract was
signed long before the Condo Council was created!
Adams is a paid executive of the CAI.
forced Mr. Adams to become a CAI member.
Adams or the Council has control over the Division's budget.
Peet was unhappy with the educational services of the CAI.
pages of the investigative report are rebuttals to these false claims
that had never been made!
It was interesting
to read Mr. Peet's opinion. (Quote): "The Division staff was
pleased with the performance of CAI." (end quote).
Actually it doesn't really matter that the Division staff is
pleased. In my opinion, it's really important TO PLEASE FLORIDA CONDO
OWNERS, since they are the ones who pay for the services!
can the owners be happy when $500,00 of their money is being used to
educate no more than 5000 owners a year -- considering there are an
estimated 1.2 million condos in Florida?
Many condo owners feel that this contract is not serving the best
interests of the owners -- much better distribution and accessibility
are necessary. Many owners feel that the members of this
trade-organization that is paid to educate owners are not a very good
source for teaching -- considering the fact that they are known to fight
owner-friendly legislation for their personal gain.
consider that CAI is the same organization that speaks out against
owners having constitutional rights -- see Battle
at Twin Rivers! This is a statement from the website of the CAI
Twin Rivers Homeowners' Association argued to no avail that subjecting
the association to constitutional standards would "alter the very
nature of planned developments, create chaos, erode private property
rights, limit the freedom to contract, discourage new development, cause
associations to lose their flexibility, and infringe the rights of the
read the Amicus
Curiae Brief Of The CAI . The same Chicken Little theory we have heard for many years.
these the kind of people we want to pay to teach our condo board members
how to run our communities?
do you call executives? Only paid staff members, as Ms. Foley-Healy
wants us to believe -- or the people
who are really making the decisions? If you ask owners who they consider
the most prominent CAI members in Florida you most likely get some
answer like this:
Attorneys Gary Poliakoff, Joseph Adams and Ellen Hirsch de Haan --
all from the law firm of Becker & Poliakoff P.A. And may be you hear
mentioned the name Paul Wean from the law firm of Wean & Malchow
who really are the executives? Who is making the decisions here in
Florida? Ms. Foley-Healy?
investigation didn't even touch the contents of the actual complaint. It
wasn't investigated why the minutes of the March 31, 2005 meeting didn't
reflect the actual public testimony given. This was a meeting that Jon
Peet attended, according to the minutes. And it seems he is not very
inclined to listen to the opinion of the citizens?
to the legislators who sponsored the bills in 2004 that created the
Advisory Council on Condominiums, the panel was established as a
sounding board for owners, not as another tool to promote the agenda of
a trade-organization that promotes the interests of the association
service providers, paid for by the condo-owners! At this time
"voluntary" CAI members on the Council can carry any motion
with a majority vote!
complaint alleged ethical violations and abuse of office by Mr. Joseph
Adams. See: Florida Condo Owner
Files Amended Ethics Complaint . The actual
investigation report on this complaint talks about everything
but the real contents of this complaint! No wonder the Commission
couldn't find any "probable cause"!
COMMISSION ON ETHICS SEEMS TO BE ANOTHER WASTE OF TAXPAYERS' MONEY!
all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character,
give him power." (Abraham Lincoln)
FILED February 1, 2006
COMMISSION ON ETHICS
In re JOSEPH ADAMS,
Complaint No. 05-086
on the preliminary investigation of this complaint and on the
recommendation of the Commission's Advocate, the Commission on Ethics finds that there is
no probable cause to believe the
Respondent as a member of the Advisory Council on Condominiums
for the Florida Department of Business and Professional
Regulationís Division of Land Sales, Mobile Homes and
Condominiums, violated Section 112.313(7)(a), Florida Statutes, by
having a conflicting relationship with Community Associations
Institute (CAI) and/or related organization(s), as alleged in this
this complaint is dismissed with the issuance of this public report.
by the State of Florida Commission on Ethics meeting in executive
session on January 27,2006.
P. Scarrit, Jr.
Mr. Mark Herron, Attorney for Respondent
Ken Hinkle, Complainant
James H. Peterson, III, Commission Advocate
Office Drawer 15709
Mr. Joseph E Adams
Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation
Commission on Ethics
NOVEMBER 9, 2005
Mr. Ken Hinkle of Ormond Beach alleges that a conflicting
contractual relationship exists
between the Respondentís public position as a member of the
Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR),
Advisory Council on Condominiums, and his membership in the
Community Associations Institute (CAI), which the Complainant
describes as a "nationwide trade organization."
The Executive Director of the Commission on Ethics noted
that, based upon the information provided in the complaint, the
above-referenced allegation is sufficient to warrant a preliminary
investigation to determine if the Respondentís actions violated
Section 112.313(7)(a)  Florida Statutes.
Mr. Michael Cochran, Director of DBPR, Division of Land Sales,
Condominiums and Mobile Homes, confirmed that Mr. Adams currently
serves as a member of the Division's Advisory Council on
Condominiums, having been appointed by Florida's Speaker of the
House of Representatives in October 2004 and elected as Chairman of the Council in 2005. Mr. Cochran noted that the Advisory
Council was created in October 2004 and that the Councilís
authority is established in Chapter 718.50151, Florida
Statutes (appended as Exhibit A). Mr. Cochran explained that
although the Council can review, evaluate, and advise the Division
on rules affecting condominiums, the Council does not have the
authority to set policy, make purchases, or enter into contracts on
behalf of the Division. He
further related that the Council has no control over the Division's
budget and has no budget of its own. Therefore, he said, the members
of the Council are not required to file financial disclosure forms.
Mr. Jonathon Peet, a Contract Manager for the Division of
Land Sales, was questioned about information included on page A-3 of
the complaint which indicates that DBPR contracts with CAI.
Mr. Peet confirmed that DBPR contracts with CAI for
educational services. He recalled that in March 2004 the
Division issued a Request For Proposal for educational services
designed to promote professional condominium management development
within the State. Following
a review by committee composed of DBPR employees, Mr. Peet said, CAI
was awarded a one year contract in August 2004.
In June 2005, Mr. Peet recalled,
DBPR renewed the contract (maintained in the investigative file)
with CAI for a second year.
CONFLICTING EMPLOYMENT OR CONTRACTUAL RELATIONSHIP.--
No public officer or employee of an agency shall have or hold
any employment or contractual relationship with any business entity
or any agency which is subject to the regulation of, or is business
with, an agency of which he or she is an officer or employee,
excluding those organizations and their officers who, when acting in
their official capacity, enter into or
negotiate a collective bargaining contract with the state or
any municipality, county, or other political subdivision of the
state, nor shall an officer or an employee of an agency have or hold
any employment or contractual relationship that will create a
continuing or frequently recurring conflict between his or her
private interests and the performance of his or her public duties or
that would impede the full and faithful discharge of his or her public duties.
(5) When Mr. Peet was
questioned about the role of the Advisory Council and/or Chairman
Adams in the selection of CAI for the above-referenced contract, he
noted that the initial contract was finalized six month prior to the
Advisory Councilís first meeting, which occurred in January 2005.
With respect to the June 2005 contract renewal, Mr. Peet said,
Chairman Adams had no involvement in the decision to renew the
contract. He explained
that the Division staff was pleased with the performance of CAI
during the initial contract period, and, therefore, he began working
to renew the contract with CAI in March 2005. Mr. Peet recalled that
during this period of time the Advisory Council was still new
and not yet well organized. Because of that, Mr. Peet said,
he purposely did not solicit input from the Council regarding the
renewal of the CAI contract. Explaining that the DBPR process to
renew the contract was lengthy, Mr. Peet asserted that a review of
the contract by the Advisory Council would have made it more
difficult to have a new contract in place by the beginning of the
2006 fiscal year. However,
Mr. Peet opined that in the future the Advisory Council will likely
be involved in the contract's review and/or renewal.
Ms. Molly Foley-Healy, Senior Vice President and General Counsel of
CAI in Arlington, Virginia, advised that CAI is a non-profit
organization that seeks to provide its members with services that
include professional community manager development, community
association board member education, networking opportunities for
professional service providers, and newsletters or magazines
providing the latest information and resources for community
operations and community management.
She said that CAI has 55 Chapters throughout the United
States and serves more than 16,000 members.
Ms. Foley-Healy confirmed that Mr. Adams is a CAI member.
However, contrary to information provided on page A-3 of the
complaint, Ms. Foley-Healy asserted that Mr. Adams is not an
executive of CAI. She advised that he is a voluntary member of CAI and that he
is not employed by CAI and does not participate in the management of
(8) Ms. Foley-Healy related that in
addition to his membership in CAI, Mr. Adams also is a voluntary
member of the Florida Legislative Alliance (FLA), which she
described as a legislative action committee of CAI.
Ms. Foley-Healy explained that FLA advises the CAI Board of
Trustees on policies relating to Florida legislation and CAI's
lobbying activities in the State.
Nevertheless, Ms. Foley-Healy said that CAI's policy
positions are based upon deliberations by the CAI Board of Trustees
and that Mr. Adams has never served as a member of the Board of
(9) Regarding CAI's education
contract with DBPR, Ms. Foley-Healy advised that Mr. Adams has never
lobbied for the contract and that he did not participate in
negotiations relative to the formation of the contract.
She explained that the CAI full-time staff worked with DBPR
staff to effectuate the contract.
CAI members and the members of FLA were not involved in the
establishment of the contract, Ms. Foley-Healy asserted.
She further stated, "I can
say unequivocally that Mr. Adams has never had an interest in, or
attempted in any way, to influence CAI's education contract with the
Ms. Foley-Healy provided CAI records which reflect that since
2002, Mr. Adams taught six classes to members of the Seven Lakes
Condo Association in Ft. Myers.
She explained that CAI provided speaking "HonorariumsĒ
to Mr. Adam for each of the six classes
that he taught. However,
she asserted and that neither Mr. Adams, nor his law firm, received
any other compensation from CAI for the instruction he provided.
It was noted that two of the classes (March 23, 2005 and May 4,
2005) were taught by the Respondent subsequent to his becoming a
member of the Condominium Advisory Council.
Ms. Foley-Healy opined that Mr. Adam's participation in the
classes was "largely a voluntary action." She explained
that each class was four hours in length and she asserted that his
law firm's hourly rate is much higher than the $400 he received for
the two classes. Also,
Ms. Foley-Healy noted that Mr. Adams has never requested to be
reimbursed for travel expenses, which CAI typically provides to its
The Respondent acknowledged that he serves as Chairman of the
Advisory Council on Condominiums and that he also is a member of CAI.
Chairman Adams also acknowledged that he serves as a member of the
CAI political action committee
known as FLA. However, he opined that his Advisory Council
service and his membership in CAI do not create a conflicting
contractual situation for him. Chairman Adams said that although the DBPR contracts with CAI
to provide educational services, he and the Advisory Council have
had no involvement in the promotion, formation, or execution of that
Regarding his involvement with the contract on behalf of CAI,
Chairman Adams said, he had no decision making role with the
organization relative to the contract and that he did not lobby or
seek to influence DBPR in any way concerning the contract.
Chairman Adams acknowledged that he received $200 honoraria
from CAI for each of the classes he taught on behalf of that
the Respondent estimated that each class required approximately six
hours of his time including preparation, travel, and presentation of
the instruction. Therefore, he opined that the honoraria were CAI's
expression of appreciation for his service and were not
END OF REPORT OF PRELIMINARY INVESTIGATION