Florida Condo Owner Files Amended Ethics Complaint Against Condo Advisory Council Member Joseph Adams!

Published September 5, 2005


In a letter dated August 3, 2005, the Senior Attorney C. Christopher Anderson, asked the condo owner, who filed the original ethics complaint against Condo Advisory Council chairman Joseph Adams, for more specific details. Below is the amended version of the ethics complaint, detailing the alleged ethics violation. The filed complaint obviously speaks for itself!

In re JOSEPH ADAMS, Complaint No. 05-086

More detailed information as requested in your letter dated August 3, 2005:



Name: Joseph Adams, Esquire  Telephone Number: (239) 433-7707

Address: 14241 Metropolis Ave, Suite 100

City: Fort Myers  County: Lee   Zip Code: 33912

Title of office or position held or sought: Member of the Advisory Council on Condominiums



Mr. Adams is a licensed, practicing member of The Florida Bar and a managing shareholder in a statewide law firm known as Becker & Poliakoff, P.A..   Mr. Adams and his law firm specialize in condominium and community association law.  At least two (2) attorneys (Gary Poliakoff, Esquire and Keith Poliakoff, Esquire) in Mr. Adams law firm are registered Florida lobbyists for the Becker & Poliakoff, P.A. law firm as their principal.  Based on the foregoing it appears that an irreconcilable and continuing conflict of interest exists between Mr. Adams’ personal interests as a lawyer and his public duties as a member of the Advisory Council on Condominiums.   Mr. Adams as chairman of the Advisory Council has advocated and promoted legislation in open Council meetings that were lobbied for by his law firm for the benefit of their clients. He also has used the Advisory Council as a vehicle to recommend to the Governor certain other legislation should be vetoed. This activity is not only outside of the statutory jurisdiction, functions and duties of the Advisory Council but also clearly perpetrated by Mr. Adam’s to further his own personal interests.

The procedural safeguards enacted by Chapter 112, Florida Statutes, are not sufficient to protect against Mr. Adams proposing, supporting or voting on recommendations that would favor or further the interests of himself, his law firm, his clients or principals and/or their firms and interests and any of their own political or social agendas and do not inspire and ensure the public’s confidence in his service on the Advisory Council on Condominiums. 

Here are more details:

1.      Irreconcilable and continuing conflict of interest: Mr. Adams is a managing shareholder of the statewide law firm of Becker & Poliakoff. This law firm with its lobbying group CALL is one of the leading organizations lobbying for association laws. Mr. Adams was himself at various occasions in Tallahassee to lobby for – or against -- specific bills. Mr. Adams is further a member of the nation-wide trade organization Community Associations Institute (CAI). He is also the Chair of CAI-FLA, the lobbying group of the Community Associations Institute. In both capacities he has a wide range of conflicting interest that serves his law firm, its clients and the members of the trade organization.

  1. Mr. Adams was one of the most outspoken proponents of HB 1593/SB 2062 during the 2005, a bill that was openly supported by his law firm, claiming to serve the interest of their clients.  In the meetings of the Council in January and February, Mr. Adams, as the chairman, dedicated many hours of the meetings to the discussion of the bill. Please note that the legislative intent of creating this council was to give the public the possibility to voice their opinion and make proposals as to necessary legislative reforms. According to our information not one public speaker had asked for this issue to be discussed. Even after the House Committee on CIVIL JUSTICE severely amended HB 1593 on Wednesday, March 30, 2005, and directed the Council to hold public hearings (quote of amendment), Mr. Adams, who was present at the committee hearing, used council time on March 31, 2005, to continue his lobbying for this bill, clearly ignoring the guidelines of the legislature!
  1. The Community Associations Institute (CAI) is the designated educational provider for the State of Florida's Department of Business and Professional Regulation, Division of Florida Land Sales, Condominiums, and Mobile Homes. This contract is worth up to $ 500,000 for the trade organization and its members. Mr. Adams is one of the leading executives of this trade organization here in Florida. This contract has come under heavy fire by the public during different Council meetings. Many proposals and suggestions have been made by members of the public in order to reform the education concept that would not only reduce the cost, but avail this education to a much bigger audience. Please note that this contract is paid for by the Condo-Trust-Fund. This fund is financed by all Florida condo-owners. This contract actually only serves up to 5000 selected board members a year. Mr. Adams has constantly tried to minimize the criticism of the public. He even allows the minutes of the meetings to be biased in favor of the education contract. In minimum one case the minutes didn’t even reflect the harsh criticism of a public speaker. Mr. Adams refused to make changes to the minutes despite being asked to do so after the minutes were published. Mr. Adams is clearly trying to protect the CAI education contract – a contract he and his firm definitely profit from directly. Minimum three other members of the Council are members of the CAI. The education contract was renewed in June 2005 without the Council informing the DBPR about the many objections of the public. Please note that the Council was created for the purpose of helping the legislature and government officials to find solutions to problems. The education contract is a clear example that Mr. Adams is not interested in performing the duty as a chairman if it goes against the interests of his law firm and their clients.
  1. It is important to notice that Mr. Adams’ position as a leading member of the law firm of Becker & Poliakoff is well known among Florida’s condo-owners. Many public speakers, especially owners whose associations are legally represented by Becker & Poliakoff, commented on this issue and felt intimated by his presence and the fact that he in his position as the chair of the Council holds considerable power.  Mr. Adams doesn’t need any member of his firm to appear in front of the Council. He is in charge of creating the agenda, which gives him the opportunity to add the issues he wants discussed at the meetings. Other members of the Council have serious difficulties to have their issues added to the agenda.
  1. The law firm of Becker & Poliakoff is well known for its lobbying efforts in Tallahassee. This law firm created and organized the Community Association Leadership Lobby (CALL), one of the strongest lobbying groups regarding association reforms in Tallahassee. The chair of this lobbying organization is Donna Berger, Esq., another member of the Becker & Poliakoff law firm. The Senate list of legislative lobbyists shows five officially registered lobbyists for that law firm.
  1. Without public input, but on request of council member Mike Andrew – who is working for the Marriott Vacation Club -- the Council chaired by Mr. Adams decided to write an official letter signed by the Council asking Governor Bush to veto SB 1520. This is not an argument about the bill being good or bad, it’s about the abuse of power favoring council members’ interests.  Please note that this Council was created by the Florida Legislature to help reforming existing laws after hearing public input, see FS 718.50151. Any official input from the Council carries considerable weight among Florida’s legislators and government executives.
  1. Mr. Adams own personal interests are pretty obvious. Having the Council ignore or minimize the influence of public input asking for necessary reforms creates bigger income for him and his law firm, being the biggest Florida law firm specialized in association law. As a shareholder he definitely profits from lack of reforms, which keeps law firms in business, much to the disadvantage of the owners.

End of Ethics Complaint

I hereby also request that Mr. Richard Spears will recuse himself from the proceedings regarding the ethics complaints against Mr. Joseph Adams. Mr. Spears is a close affiliate of Mr. Adams. As a former leading executive of the CAI Mr. Spears is working closely with Mr. Adams on association law and was heavily involved in lobbying for HB 1593.