Tampa, Florida -- The Florida Commission on Ethics is finding probable cause that former Hillsborough Administrator and former County Attorney Renee Lee violated ethics rules.
George Niemann, who filed the ethics complaint, says, "They broke the law. It's official now."
Niemann, who filed an ethics complaint after we first revealed Bean and Lee gave themselves one percent raises without telling their bosses, says, "I was very disheartened that our officials hired by the commission could be dishonest in that way."
Niemann says his charges stemmed from the misuse of public position.
Although both lost their jobs, a Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigation said there were no criminal violations. Lee is suing for reimbursement of legal fees and Bean is suing for more than $260,000 in severance, as well as legal fees.
In July, Bean told us, "I was very thrilled and pleased when the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the State Attorney said I didn't do anything criminal or illegal."
However, Hillsborough Commissioner Mark Sharpe says in addition to calling the attorney fees into question, the ethics violations are good reason not to pay former administrator Pat Bean the money she is seeking in severance. Bean says she deserves the money because she contends she was fired without cause, saying, "I did not see it's anything that was criminal, illegal or anything I should lose my job over."
But that's not how Sharpe sees it. According to Sharpe, "I've said earlier on there was cause for termination of our administrator and wanted to pay nothing."
Sharpe says he will pursue that now that the Ethics Commission has found probable cause.
Neither Bean or Lee returned our calls. They can either sign a consent form and admit they are guilty or try to fight the findings in a public trial.