I attended the June 12 meeting of the Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics and the Public Trust – and once again, Stephen Cody’s ethics case against Phil Stoddard was front and center.
As is turns out, Stoddard served Cody with a subpoena and now wants Cody to produce years of financial records in what appears to be an attempt to find out how he’s making money. We’ve been told that Stoddard also wants to know if Cody’s getting paid by Florida Power and Light.
A little background: Cody was chairman of a state political action committee that opposed Stoddard’s reelection and also supported other candidates like Gwen Graham. He was also a director of a Florida non-profit corporation that gave funding to the PAC.
People involved in politics form these kinds of entities all the time. Phil has even formed PACs over the years to suit his own political desires. The way in which he clutches his pearls and moves to his fainting couch is more than a little disingenuous.
But it seems that it wasn’t Cody’s connection to the PAC or the corporation he formed that was bothering Phil. Perhaps it was Phil’s gut feeling that Cody was secretly on the FPL payroll. Phil’s been waging a war against FPL’s attempt to bring power lines up US 1 through South Miami.
Back to what just might matter: After a written public request and a much inexplicable delay, the city has finally produced the sign-in sheet for the two meetings where Cody attempted to speak.
Back in January 2018, during the midst of Phil’s attempt to get reelected, Cody appeared at a city commission meeting and signed in to speak. When meetings begin, the sheets are brought up to the city clerk, who then passes them to the Mayor.
Cody was there to talk about how Stoddard’s bungled attempt to fire Police Chief Orlando Martinez de Castro that had cost the city about $1.5 million.
The sheet for the January 16 meeting shows that Cody was the first to sign up. There was a column for the speaker names, their addresses, and the topic that they wanted to address. Cody noted that he wanted to talk about “Investigations.” There’s also a note next to Cody’s name, in what looks like Stoddard’s childlike block printing, that reads “unreg. Lobbyist.”
Since Phil twice stopped Cody from speaking to the South Miami Commission, he’s sent me a steady stream of messages telling me that his violation of the Citizens’ Bill of Rights in both the county and city charters isn’t the story. To Phil, the story is, for whom is Cody secretly working.
I asked Cody about it. He said he’s not on FPL’s payroll. Nor is he a member of the Illuminati or the Bilderberger Group. He’s not even an undercover agent for the CIA or MI-6. Although he did mention that he found out that his paternal grandfather was Canadian, which may mean that Cody can claim Canadian citizenship.
Canadians. That may be the new avenue for Phil to go after Cody. Cody looks like he’s enjoyed far more than his fair share of maple syrup over the years. I jest because Phil’s concern just might be running amok.
The Ethics Commission took up the motion for protective order filed by the Commission’s Advocate, Mike Murawski, and Cody’s lawyer Rick Yabor. They seemed to be troubled by Stoddard’s attorney Ben Kuehne, asking Cody to cough up four years’ worth of bank statements and tax returns and a host of other irrelevant paperwork. I’ve written previously about the “forensic colonoscopy” that Kuehne was trying to give Cody.
Stoddard’s lawyer Ben Kuehne and Cody’s lawyer were directed by the commission to narrow down the scope of documents Cody will have to produce. In doing so, the commission gave Kuehne a metaphorical rap on the nose with a newspaper.
By the way, Carillo had a source in the city that got him photographs of the sign-in sheets showing that Cody showed up as a private citizen. When news that the sheets were now in the public view, the city finally sent them to Cody.
That may have driven a stake through the heart of Phil’s defense that Cody was a secret lobbyist for FPL. Cody signed up to speak as a private citizen. Unless he has proof that Cody was hired by FPL to talk about his incompetence, he doesn’t have a defense.
Just hoping and wishing for something to be true isn’t evidence. And most people know it or at least should know it.
What’s at stake here is whether Phil survives as mayor. The Ethics Commission can’t remove him, but the city charter says that if he intentionally violated Cody’s rights, he forfeits his office. The sign-in sheets lead to the only conclusion that Stoddard intentionally tried to silence Cody.
Could Stoddard leaves his office in disgrace or just in shame. Stay tuned.