We previously reported on complaints to the Florida Commission On Ethics filed against Walton Commissioner Larry Jones by Suzanne Harris and Mike Judkins. Jones has maintained he felt he was not in violation and welcomed the investigation. These came after Jones took a job with Waste Management, a company who was seeking and eventually received a contract with Walton County. The two complaints have been dismissed.
The complaints claim Jones misused his commissioner office by working for and representing Waste Management. The claims indicate he misused his position as commissioner for the advantage of the waste company, a company he was being paid by. In Harris’ complaint it states, “The mere act of employment with a company that is doing business with the county presents a violation of the (state) code of ethics.” Both complaints also say Jones accepted the job with Waste Management and did not notify the county. According to the Commission On Ethics, the complaints also alleged that by accepting the job, Jones “knew or should have known it was offered to influence his official actions.”.
Jones says he consulted with then County Attorney Mike Burke and was told there were no legal obstacles. Jones has maintained he moved forward based on the legal advice. A year ago Jones told WZEP First News he did not believe he was in the wrong and has tried to be open about his position. He also says he made an effort to not participate in any action relating to commissioner decisions about Waste Management. Jones has said that if he was in the wrong and was mistaken, then he would own up to it.
The Commission on Ethics found no probable cause to believe Jones used inside information gained by reason of his public position to secure a benefit for his employer. The Commission also says an allegation that Jones misused his position to benefit Waste Management was also dismissed with a finding of no probable cause. The Commission’s rejection of the claims also rejects an Attorney General’s Office investigator opinion about probable cause.
Jone did not seek reelection of his Commission seat. He tells First news he is actively considering applying for the open County Commissioner job. A few years ago Jones completed a degree that better qualifies him for the position.