Boca Raton mayor pays fine after admitting to violating county ethics rule

BOCA RATON, Fla. - Boca Raton Mayor Susan Haynie will pay a $500 fine, after admitting she violated Palm Beach County's Code of Ethics. 

The Palm Beach County Commission on Ethics general counsel says, as part of a settlement, Haynie admits she violated the rules when she voted on "matters that gave financial benefit to developer James Batmasian, a client of her property management firm." She also received a letter of reprimand, as well as the fine. 

The Commission on Ethics investigated Haynie for misuse of public office and failure to disclose voting conflicts.

Last year, our news partners at the Palm Beach Post found Community Reliance, a property management firm run by the mayor and her husband, collected thousands from a company controlled by Batmasian and his wife. The Post also found Mayor Haynie voted on at least a dozen projects that went in favor of Batmasian.

The Palm Beach County Commission on Ethics said four of those votes showed a real conflict of interest.

The commission did say they believed the violation was "inadvertent or unintentional" adding "Haynie maintains that she believed Tivoli Park Master Association Inc. was the customer or client of her outside business, and not Mr. Batmasian.

She also says the city attorney advised her that there was no voting conflict in voting for the measures that benefited Mr. Batmasian.

The commission says the reprimand also serves as a notice to Haynie "that she should abstain from voting on any matter coming before her as a member of the city of Boca Raton that affects the financial interest of James Batmasian or any of his businesses."

The Florida Commission on Ethics is still investigating whether Haynie's failure to disclose her business on mandatory state financial disclosure firms broke any laws. If so, she faces up to $10,000 in fines or be removed from office. 

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