DUNDEE – Saturday, March 11, 2006 | An ethics complaint filed with the state against Dundee Mayor Kevin Kitto by a former town official for alleged harassment has been dismissed.
The Florida Commission on Ethics voted to dismiss the complaint March 8 because the charges brought against Kitto, even if true, did not meet the legal requirements for an ethics violation.
The Historic Dundee Depot board co-chairman Robert Kampsen and his wife, the Depot’s chairwoman, Margaret Kampsen, filed the complaint in early January.
But the commission ruled that, under state law, Kitto would have to either have gained something for himself or someone else for there to be a legal violation.
“While such behavior may well be detrimental to the (Kampsens) or to the Depot, there is no indication of any concomitant benefit to (Kitto),” the commission said.
The commission said it was not ruling on whether the complaint was justified.
The complaint was filed by Robert Kampsen in conjunction with a lawsuit against Dundee and Kitto individually.
Kampsen sued on grounds that he has been denied the right to speak and to be recognized at public meetings.
The lawsuit was dropped during mediation Jan. 19.
Robert Kampsen also complained to the Ethics Commission that Kitto refused to allow him to speak at a council meeting.
Kitto declined comment about the commission’s decision Friday.
But his lawyer, Lance Holden of Winter Haven, said the complaint was dismissed because “simply there was no merit to their claim.”
“It’s frivolous,” Holden said. “It’s a huge waste of taxpayers’ money.”
To Robert Kampsen, the issue is “over with.”
“I am satisfied that because of the lawsuit the residents of this town have a right to speak at the meetings,” he said. “I think it is time to move forward.”
Kampsen agreed to withdraw the lawsuit if the council approved formalizing procedures to be followed in public meetings.
The council later voted to formalized the meetings.
Holden said the lawsuit didn’t have merit, either.
“The real harassment is coming from the Kampsens’ doing this to the town and the taxpayers of Florida,” Holden said.
The council also voted to reimburse Kampsen’s legal fees for a total of $15,000.
Kampsen is running for council seat 1 in the April 1 elections.
According to the Ethics Commission report, the Kampsens claimed that Kitto harassed them and the Depot by failing to question Town Manager Jim Gallagher’s criticism of the Depot during a budget meeting Sept. 1, 2005.
The Kampsens also claimed that Kitto harassed them “by failing or refusing to address issues related to the Depot or bring them before the Town Council for resolution.”