Cumber investigation to be handed off to city ethics commission

The City Council Special Investigatory Committee looking into whether Republican mayoral candidate and Councilmember LeAnna Cumber hid her husband’s involvement with a bidder during the failed sale of JEA says it will be passing the case along to the city ethics commission.


The decision comes after Action News Jax obtained emails between Councilmember Cumber’s husband Husein and members of JEA Public Power Partners, a group pitching a concession deal to operate the utility.

Related Story: Emails raise JEA conflict of interest questions about mayoral candidate Councilmember LeAnna Cumber

Councilmember Cumber didn’t mention Husein’s dealings with the bidder on a conflict-of-interest disclosure all city councilmembers were asked to submit to the original Special Committee tasked with investigating the failed JEA sale.

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Additional emails came to light last month after Republican Mayoral Candidate Daniel Davis’ Communications Director, who worked on the JEA PPP bid, handed them to the special committee.

Related Story: City Council Special Committee to forward investigation into LeAnna Cumber following new evidence

“He seemed to have led initiatives for the group. He seemed to have led opportunities to influence key leaders in the community towards their particular bid. So, his involvement was significant,” Committee Vice Chairman Nick Howland (R-Group 3 At-Large) said.

Because Councilmember Cumber is a mayoral candidate, an ethics investigation cannot be filed against her within 30-days of the election.

The committee decided to hold off on referring the case to ethics until Mar. 22 -- The day after the election.

“The entire issue about my husband and JEA has been manufactured and orchestrated by a member of my opponent’s campaign. That is a fact. This is a made-up controversy created only to protect the Mayor and his endorsed candidate weeks before the election,” Councilmember Cumber said in a statement.

In the past, Cumber has claimed she didn’t include her husband on the form because he was acting as an FBI informant.

The FBI would not confirm or deny that claim when asked by the special committee.

Once the investigation is handed off to the city ethics commission, the commission will be tasked with determining whether she misled the original special committee and whether she attempted to use her position for personal profit.

“They could recommend no further action, they could recommend a fine under ordinance code, for the city’s ethics commission, or they could recommend referral to a criminal investigation,” Howland said.

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The special committee will meet again once the ethics commission concludes its investigation and Howland told us the committee will likely put forth legislation to clarify councilmembers and city employees must cooperate with city council investigations.

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