St. Petersburg Mayor Elect Rick Kriseman is under fire for the second time in one week for hiring Kevin King, previously arrested on lewd and lascivious charges years ago, as his chief of staff.
St. Petersburg, Florida --St. Petersburg Mayor Elect Rick Kriseman is under fire Thursday night for the second time this week.
You may recall the 10 News Investigative report Monday about a secret conference call Kriseman had with council members that was highly criticized for lack of transparency, and a possible sunshine violation.
STORY: Mayor-elect Kriseman held secret conference call with council
Now Kriseman's new chief of staff is a man that, seven-years-ago, was the subject of a 10 News investigation that uncovered an arrest for inappropriate actions with minor female students.
STORY: Kevin King, allegations of inappropriate e-mails
When we broke the story in 2006, former St. Petersburg Mayoral Candidate and Pinellas Democratic chair, Ed Helm told us, "There is nothing more important in politics than trust."
But back then, Kevin King was working for the Democratic Party. Now, he's been appointed St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman's chief of staff despite his's arrest in 2001.
Although the St. Petersburg Police Department was ordered to seal all information of King's criminal history, and all charges were dropped, he admits when he was a substitute teacher he was arrested for computer solicitation to commit a lewd and lascivious act, and two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
"This smacks of the cronyism that goes on in our political process," Pasco Democratic Executive Committee member Clay Colson says of King's appointment.
Colson says he is outraged because published reports show King sent emails to two female students, ages 14 and 15, to get them to skip school and drink beer with him. In addition, according to the report, King asked the 14-year-old to perform a sex act on him.
"My question is, 'is this kind of person you want in our city government?'," said Colson.
Meantime Kriseman issued a statement saying in part:
"I am proud of those who have agreed to serve with me in City Hall. Together, I know we will accomplish things for the people of St. Petersburg. Today is not a day for addressing scurrilous attacks on these public servants. "
But some in St. Petersburg say the attacks are not scurrilous, and the mayor-elect is out of touch with what citizens think.
However Kriseman told us Monday when we asked him about the wisdom of the secret conference call that he "[tires] to be aware of perception, and [he] always will be aware of perception."
Kriseman appears to be starting off on shaky ground. Thursday the Tampa Bay Times, a strong supporter of Kriseman, blasted him in an editorial for the secret conference call we discovered.
In addition, no one from the transition team would return any of our calls- including Kevin King, who knew we were working on this story. King had promised he would call us if he got the chief of staff's position.
So much for promises made from the man who will be closest to St. Petersburg's next Mayor.
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