Article Courtesy of The
By Aric Chokey
Published December 4, 2017
The Palm Beach County Commission on Ethics is looking
into records linking Boca Raton Mayor Susan Haynie and prominent local
developers James and Marta Batmasian.
An ethics commission
investigator requested Haynie’s emails from 2013 from the
city with terms such as “Batmasian,” “Investments Limited,”
“Ethics” and “Condominium Association.”
The ethics commission previously said it could not affirm or
deny an ethics investigation.
Haynie has been under scrutiny recently over her ties to the
Batmasians, which prompted two state and county ethics
complaints from her political opponent Al Zucaro.
The connections stem from Deerfield Beach-based Tivoli Park
Condo Association. Tivoli was headed by Batmasian employees
and Haynie received $24,000 from the association for
managing it through the company she co-owned at the time,
Since 2013, Haynie has approved several major
development projects proposed by Batmasian-owned Investments Limited,
the Palm Beach Post reported. One of the most recent projects is the
nearly 300 apartments and condos of Royal Palm Place.
But Haynie, who is running for a county commission seat, has defended
herself with a 2013 ethics opinion from the commission that said she had
no conflict of interest.
City Attorney Diana Grub-Frieser had requested the opinion on behalf of
Haynie. Grub-Frieser’s emails were also included in the records request
from the ethics commission.
Despite the ruling, the financial ties prompted inquiries from Boca’s
City Council this month — members sent a letter to the ethics commission
seeking affirmation that Haynie was clear to vote.
The letter said the city council members are concerned about the
reports. It included news articles from the Sun Sentinel and Palm Beach
Post about the ties, as well as emails between the city and the ethics
But in a response dated Nov. 28, Mark Bannon, executive director of the
ethics commission, said the commission could not “affirm or re-address”
The response also said a key fact of the opinion was a distinction that
deemed the Batmasians as an “investor” and not a “developer.”
Haynie on Tuesday called the mention of the fact “cherry-picking,” and
said she intends to get more clarification.
“I will have conversation with Mr. Bannon to clarify those statements
prior to any future votes,” Haynie promised the council.
Boca City Manager Leif Ahnell said he plans to invite Bannon to the city
to give an overview of ethics and discuss procedure.
Bannon previously said the ethics commission does not give opinions on
opinions. Alternatively, the city could request another opinion if new
facts are presented.
“We do not revisit old opinions as a rule,” Bannon said on Nov. 15.