Christine Robinson, as both a Sarasota County commissioner and executive director of the Argus Foundation, has indicated that her new job with Argus was properly vetted through the county attorney, Stephen DeMarsh. However, the commissioners hire, fire and evaluate the county attorney. Shouldn't there be an independent opinion as well?
As of April 13, according to a county representative, no one else from the county had reviewed or vetted the dual role of Commissioner Robinson, not even the county ethics staff. Should the commissioners' attorney be the final word on a perceived conflict of interest issue when it has to do with one of his bosses? Doesn't it make common sense, let alone legal sense, for another qualified professional to review this dual role?
A petition of over 750 residents is demanding Robinson's resignation. She, as a public officer, should take advantage of her ability to request an opinion from the Florida Commission on Ethics and, in the spirit of openness and as a public official, share both the letter of request and the state commission response with her concerned constituents.
According to the definitions in the Florida Statutes, Chapter 112.312, (8): "Conflict" or "conflict of interest" means a situation in which regard for a private interest tends to lead to disregard of a public duty or interest.