Friday, June 02, 2017

"Do you know who I am?" Delray Beach state rep. Al Jacquet and ticket-fixing charges

Notice Palm Beach County has an Ethics Commission, which St. Johns County could create if our all-Republican, developer-driven county government elected officials would support it, along with an Ombuds and an Inspector General.

Every badge of Florida elected officials should come with a subtitle -- "Do you know who I am?" (That's what ex-Commissioner ERROL JONES said to St. Augustine Police upon his arrest in 2012, leading Commissioner Leanna Sophia Amaru Freeman to quip that she was thinking about having her badge amended to ask, "Do you know who I am?"

Due to corruption, ticket-fixing is endemic in America, ranked eighteenth on the rule of law among the world's nations by the World Justice Project.

In 1978, East Tennessee Chief United States District Court Judge Robert L. Taylor swore in Anderson County District Attorney General James Nelson Ramsey for his first term as DA in the 28th Judicial Circuit, home to Oak Ridge. After the swearing-in, the first official act of General Ramsey was being asked to "fix" a ticket by the law clerk for Judge Taylor; General Ramsey went and paid the $2 on the spot. But many government officials feel a sense of entitlement, as do these folks in Palm Beach County. Perhaps Democratic Palm Beach County State's Attorney David Aronberg will take this to a grand jury -- ticket fixing favors the wealthy, as it does in St. Johns County, where Sheriff DAVID SHOAR would allegedly sometimes telephone deputies in mid-course after pulling over a car, asking the inculpatory question: "Would you do a favor for your boss?"

UPDATE: Delray state rep Al Jacquet responds to ethics probe

By Alexandra Seltzer
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
8:40 p.m Thursday, June 1, 2017

Al Jacquet and his ticket. (Palm Beach County Commission on Ethics)

The Palm Beach County Commission on Ethics board found probable cause Thursday that former Delray Beach Vice Mayor Al Jacquet used his official position to have a $35 parking ticket thrown out by city police.

Jacquet, now a state House representative, received the ticket April 5, 2016, around 3:45 p.m., according to documents. His black Volkswagen Jetta was parked in an expired metered spot in the 1000 block of East Atlantic Avenue, just east of the bridge.

Volunteer Maj. Martin Tencer told the Ethics Commission Jacquet called him and said he forgot to display his commissioner parking pass — which does not exist — while he attended to “official business” and wanted his parking ticket voided. Parking Enforcement Specialist Michael Wasserman, who issued the ticket, said Jacquet asked, “Do you know who I am?”

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Jacquet told The Palm Beach Post late Thursday afternoon he could not comment on those alleged quotes, and will have to review what the allegations are.

“Today was just a preliminary hearing,” Jacquet said. “No facts were presented. Not one scintilla of evidence was presented. We don’t believe any of that is true from what’s being alleged. It’s not fair for me to make any statements about things that are about to go to a hearing where I think it will be very clear at that time.”

Jacquet will have a final hearing in the next 120 days, said Gina Levesque, intake and compliance manager at the Ethics Commission. If he did violate ethics ordinances of misuse of public office or employment and corrupt misuse of official position, it will be determined at the hearing.

Once closed, as with any case, Jacquet’s case will be referred to the State Attorney’s Office, the State Commission on Ethics and the Attorney General’s Office. However, according to documents, the State Attorney’s Office already decided against pursuing a case.

Jacquet was elected to state House District 88 in August. He was a legislative aide to state Rep. Mack Bernard, now a county commissioner, from 2009 to 2012, was elected to the Delray City Commission in 2012, and re-elected in 2014.

The state representative has had parking tickets voided before, according to the documents. Tickets issued Sept. 27, 2015, and Nov. 2, 2012, were voided. He partially paid for a June 18, 2012, ticket, and fully paid for one issued Jan. 28, 2014. It is not clear why the tickets were voided.

This latest voided ticket was brought to the Ethics Commission by an anonymous caller.

Tencer referred Jacquet’s request to void the ticket to supervisor Lt. David Weatherspoon, who said it was OK to void the ticket.

Tencer later found out the “parking pass” didn’t exist. He said he asked for an email documenting the approval to void the ticket, but Weatherspoon said a verbal approval is sufficient.

Jacquet went to the police department with his ticket and gave it to Barbara Brennen at the front window with his name and phone number on the back. He told her to give it to Tencer to have it voided, documents say. The ticket was voided and the fee waived.

Tencer was given a verbal reprimand and Weatherspoon received a form of internal discipline from Delray Police, the documents state.

Jacquet has come under the spotlight recently for other questionable actions. Palm Beach Post stories published in March revealed that Commissioner Bernard and Jacquet, both Democrats, won their seats after entering homes and helping people fill out vote-by-mail ballots. Although their behavior drew condemnation from experts who believe it’s an improper campaign tactic, Florida’s laws did not make it illegal.

The Post’s investigation revealed that Florida’s lax election laws allowed Bernard and Jacquet to score heavy vote-by-mail turnout to help them win their Aug. 30 primary races. The Post found signatures on vote-by-mail ballots that didn’t match ones on file, but the votes still counted. One voter said Bernard filled out his ballot. Others said they received ballots in the mail but didn’t remember requesting them.

Bernard and Jacquet denied wrongdoing.

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