“SLANDER” or THE FACTS? FORMAL ETHICS COMPLAINT FILED AGAINST GEORGE NEUGENT

Rick Boettger

Rick Boettger

I have recently reported that I was filing an ethics complaint with the State of Florida against George Neugent.  It charges him with using his power as County Commissioner to affect the awarding of a contract to his friends. At the August 4 Hometown PAC candidates’ forum, he charged me twice with “slander” when questioned about my reporting.

Neugent is thus forcing me to make public the full complaint that I have mailed to the state ethics commission. While the commission by its charter must keep its investigation confidential until resolved, they explicitly state that either the filer or subject of the complaint may say anything they want about it.

The complaint itself is 2,800 words long, accompanied by 16 exhibits adding another 50 pages. You may read as much of it as you wish.  The exhibits are public records and Neugent’s own words: emails, media quotes, transcripts of county commission meetings, and his sworn deposition in the county’s years-long losing litigation against SUFA.

Judge for yourself whether his own words and the public record support my charges. To squeeze 58 pages of argument down to a paragraph, here’s what he did: While Stand Up for Animals (SUFA) was negotiating in good faith for a renewal of its animal control contract with the county, being the only bidder on that contract after having had it for eight years of highly-praised service, Neugent suggested to a friend that she form a competing nonprofit to get the contract. He met with a disgruntled SUFA employee to get incorrect criticism of SUFA, making no attempt to get SUFA’s side of the story. He coveted the $ 240,000 endowment SUFA had accumulated largely from grants and donations. He encouraged the illegal audit that froze SUFA’s funds and put them out of business. He himself slandered SUFA’s director Linda Gottwald in various media, telling outright lies about her and her and her business. And much more.

Again, it is impossible to put 58 pages into a quick read. If you care to judge the facts, please take some time with the linked documentation. At the Hometown forum, Neugent told the same kind of lie about me that he told the commission and media about SUFA. He charged them with having no Monroe County directors on their board. This was an outright lie, as the attached Exhibit 13, SUFA’s annual corporate report shows: the majority of directors lived in Monroe. Similarly, Neugent lied about me. He dismissed my reporting as my working for his Republican opponent, Danny Coll, perhaps even being his campaign manager.

In point of fact, I of course support anyone running against Neugent, due to what I detail as his unethical actions. But I have not contacted Danny Coll in any way since the prior election in 2010, nor do I have any relation to his campaign. Coll verifies this, and states he in fact has no campaign manager at all. That is George Neugent: while accusing me of slander, he tells an outright and easily disprovable lie about me on the public record, out there on YouTube for all the world to see.

Please, use these links to judge George Neugent for yourself:

Click here for ETHICS COMPLAINT

Exh 1 – 7/29/2010 email Baggs to Neugent

Exh 2 – Neugent depo pgs 22 and 79

Exh 3a  –  7/19/2010 Articles of Incorporation SHARK

Exh 3b – 8/24/2010 email Katie Bentley to Roman Gastesi

Exh 4 – 7/7/2010 emails Conie Cyr, Beth Leto, Pierce Dent

Exh 5 – Neugent depo pgs 88-89

Exh 6 – 8/5/2010 email Braggs to Neugent

Exh 7 – Neugent depo pgs 23-24

Exh 8 – Exh 8 Neugent depo pgs 25-27

Exh 9 – 8/4/2010 emails Neugent and County Attorney

Exh 10 – 8/5/2010 email Neugent and Braggs

Exh 11 – Neugent Facebook and Neugent depo

Exh 12 – 8/18/2010 BOCC meeting transcript

Exh 13 – SUFA 2010 annual report and warranty deed

Exh 14 – 8/10/2010 News Barometer article

Exh 15a – 12/7/2010 SHARK removal of officers

Exh 15b – 12/3/2010 Key West The Newspaper article

Exh 16 – Neugent depo pgs 49-50 and 45

George Neugent


Key West The Newspaper [The Blue Paper] encourages spirited, open debate in comments on our stories. We do ask that you refrain from profanity, personal attacks and remarks that are off point. Please join the conversation!

22 comments on ““SLANDER” or THE FACTS? FORMAL ETHICS COMPLAINT FILED AGAINST GEORGE NEUGENT

  1. How low can you go as an elected official? Not even an apology from the commissioner or his cronies for maliciously putting Linda Gottwald through utter hell for 4 years. Despite damning evidence to the contrary, the commissioners feigns innocence for his contemptible actions. Ms. Gottwald was vindicated but her reputation destroyed — she has been unjustly scarred for life. Sixty years after Attorney Joseph Welch’s famous comments to Senator McCarthy seems apt today for the commissioner: “You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?”

    • George has been in this position long enough, he let the friend bid higher than competitive bid from another vendor who would have kept operations in Big Pine and run both shelters instead he got less service for more money; really George? Time to go and let new blood in to govern our island chain.
      Linda is a great person and ran the shelter while doing so much for the animals. The county leadership is lacking and just throws our money at problems.

  2. Breathtaking Analysis…Stellar Presentation…
    Courageous Action…Convincing Argument…

    I’ve always liked George. He has a friendly and warm demeanor. If any part of the allegations set forth in the complaint are true, it’s my hope that he will quietly step away.

    If Danny Kohlage was in any way involved with the wrong doing set forth in the complaint, it would be wise for him to depart gracefully.

    • John, I didn’t keep up with the SUFA case, nearly all of Rich Boettger’s case was news to me when I read it. But back when the case was first getting heated up, I got into it a little, I was living on Little Torch Key then. Linda Gottwald and I spoke on the telephone a while; as I recall, she approached me, perhaps because of something I had written at http://www.goodmorniingfloridakeys.com. I told her the only thing then that concerned me was I’d heard she’d used a Monroe County vehicle to transport animals, dogs as I recall, from the Keys to Michigan. If she did that, I said I hoped she had permission from Monroe County. For if she did not, I think she made a mistake. As I recall, I didn’t get a direct answer from her. As I recall, we talked a pretty good while, perhaps 15-20 minutes, and I kept saying, if she took animals to Michigan in a county vehicle without permission, that would bother me. I am pretty sure I wrote about that at http://www.goodmorningfloridakeys.com. The rest of the case I stayed out of.
      Imagine if Linda, or whoever drove the county vehicle, had an accident en route to Michigan. Imagine someone in another vehicle being seriously injured or killed. Imagine Monroe County being sued for its vehicle being involved. Sued for a lot of money. I can’t see myself having use of a county vehicle in the Keys, say, in the same position Linda had, using the vehicle to transport dogs to Michigan without the county’s permission. I still don’t know what actually happened around that. But I did have that telephone conversation with Linda. And I didn’t feel good about the conversation after it ended.

  3. For the past four years, one of my gnawing fears was that the truth of what truly happened to SUFA and our animal shelter would never be told. Thank you to Rick and the Blue Paper for journalism at its best….

  4. Why don’t the investigative reporters for the commercial press calculate & report how much was spent on this 4 year character assassination plot? County Attorney time? County Clerk audit? Travel & lodging? State Attorney investigation time? Oh, and let’s add in the $45,000.00 payment to SUFA that Nugent & Carruthers “reluctantly” approved as a “business decision” !! If the reporters will take the time to read the depositions in this case, they will quickly understand that the “business decision” they made was an embarrassing attempt to save George’s butt. And, if you want a real belly laugh, read the entirety of Gastesi’s deposition. His money’s not his? If he’s as dumb as he sounds, why is he still here?

  5. It is so rare that the truth, especially truths born of corruption, are printed in Keys media. I commend those of you who aren’t afraid to let the public know what’s really going on ‘behind closed doors.’

  6. Great job bringing this all to light. SUFA and Linda Gottwald did a lot of good for the community and animals monroe county and should be remembered as such. With people like you standing up to this kind of corruption (George Nugent) maybe things can change. We support you.

  7. Monroe County owes Mr. Boettger and this newspaper a debt of gratitude for their tenacious pursuit of the truth and for their courageous crusade to expose the misdeeds of Mr. Neugent and his pals. What they did to Ms. Gottwald and SUFA is outrageous and what they did to animals as a result is truly sinful!

  8. Let’s face it. Most of our local media is in the bag and just do not do the job on this or other significant issues.
    It’s news Lite.
    And while I’m at it what harm would it really do to have the KW City Commission express their condolences to the Eimers family- just common decency and no admission of guilt. Shameful. One Human Family? Such hypocrisy.

  9. Corruption in gov’t is standard these days. I knew George personally for years. Money changes people. People steal, kill, destroy people’s lives for money, position, power. What was done to SUFA, and to Linda personally, is a crime. Everyone involved should be prosecuted. There is no longer any shame in our society — only “sorry” if caught. Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely. George should never be given any postion again and drummed out of town on a raft.

  10. Another Keys witch hunt comes to an end. A dead end. After smearing Linda Gottwald and SUFA, county efforts have resulted in reducing services to the public (closing of the BPK branch animal shelter), while spending far more than simply renewing the contract with the increase asked for by SUFA in the first place. It’s a good thing they settled, since it was starting to look like a repeat of the City of KW vs Ducks Tours case and its’ multi-million dollar punitive damages award against the city for interfering with and damaging one private business on behalf of another.

    SUFA had a service contract, provided the services, got paid. The county had no right to try to claw back funds either raised privately by SUFA or earned for services rendered under the contract. Nor did they have any authority to dictate how SUFA spent its income as long as those services were performed and conditions of the agreement met.

    As for the result, congratulations Linda, you got 45,000 apologies from Monroe County government. I hope folks whose view of you and SUFA were tarnished by the rush to misjudgment gang have the chance to read the article and take a look at the exhibits, especially the emails. Thanks Mr Boettger and The Blue Paper for helping Linda begin to restore her reputation and for allowing the commissioner’s own words confirm what you have said all along.

  11. Hopefully, now the voters of Monroe Cty. Will begin to see the true character of “The Nug”. And, just wait, there’s more to come. Has George placed friendship with a very long time friend and fellow commissioner over his fiduciary obligations to the voters of his district? Puzzling isn’t it how there were pet projects N. of the 7mile bridge that needed funding and the funds were magically found in the funding for the lower keys sewer project. Coincidentally, all three commissioners N of the 7mile bridge seem to have voted to make this happen. Sometime ago wasn’t there something about SUNSHINE violations involving an old Gang of Three? I wonder ?? Does anyone out there know anything. The time is ripe before the election.

    • Since you asked, Dr. Geno …

      As an Independent, I ran against George Neugent in 2006 and in 2010, I when I lived on Little Torch Key. I supported him against Danny Coll in 2010 Republican primary. Danny was not ready in 2010. George said in 2010 that it was his last race. His campaign slogan that year was PROMISES MADE, PROMISES KEPT.
      I put up a post today at http://www.goodmorningfloridakeys.com, August 15, entitled “George Neugent vs. Danny Coll Florida Keys county commission race heats up a tad, finally”. I contains a good bit of stuff to which I am privy in the Cudjoe Regional Sewer District fracas, taking place entirely within George’s voting district. George’s behavior over Cudjoe Regional caused me to decide he needs to find something else to do. That, and 4 4-year terms is plenty.

      The beginning of the post is about Danny Coll. Keep reading.

      • And, if you have not yet watched the video of the county commission part of Hometown PAC’s August 4 candidate forum, the link to the video is in last week’s blue paper, or you can go to http://www.hometownkeywest.com and open the You Tube link about half way down the right side of the home page, and that should bring the video up. The county commission race is the second segment, after the mosquito control board segment, which is the first race in the video. I was at that forum. I watched a number of people in the audience reacting to George when he was speaking. He seemed to me to take each question as a opportunity to make a campaign speech. After the forum, out in the Tropic Cinema lobby, I heard several people say they could not believe how arrogant George was during the forum.

  12. Thank you Rick. Such bravery, you are my hero ! Go get em’ ! And any resident of Monroe county needs to get out and vote for Danny Coll. George was only concerned for himself and his friends, he didn’t care at all about what might happen to the animals. Time for George to go …… “bye bye”.

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