Breaking News
More () »

'Height of political mudslinging' in City Council's JEA sale investigation

Jacksonville's City Council is renewing a Special Investigatory Committee to determine if Council Member and mayoral candidate Cumber misled investigatory committee.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — It's the scandal that will not die. 

Four years after the attempted sale of JEA became a criminal and political quagmire, it is now front and center in the race for Jacksonville mayor. 

City Council President Terrance Freeman announced that he has reopened a special committee to investigate the failed sale of JEA. This time the committee will focus on council member and republican mayoral candidate LeAnna Cumber following allegations that she lied when she didn't disclose her husband's role in the potential sale.

With less than two months to go before the city elections, the race for mayor is already red-hot, which has some asking if the re-launch of the JEA investigation is about official accountability or just the latest form of campaign mudslinging.

Televisions across Jacksonville are inundated with commercials from rival republican mayoral candidates LeAnna Cumber and Daniel Davis. Each accuse the other of misrepresentations related to the JEA sale.

But it's the claims against Cumber that prompted City Council President Terrance Freeman to re-open the JEA Special Committee to investigate whether Cumber deceived or misled the council about her husband's involvement in the sale.

Davis released the following statement when asked by First Coast News about the investigation into Cumber:

"I am as concerned as anyone over the news reports suggesting LeAnna and Husein Cumber have not been truthful about their involvement in the JEA scandal. That LeAnna Cumber would publicly demand transparency while harboring such contempt for the truth is an egregious violation of the public trust that deserves to be investigated."

Cumber, who has been highly accessible during her campaign, did not respond to a request for comment. However, she previously said she was not required by law to disclose her husband's role, and that he was not paid for his role in sale discussions.

John Daigle, a longtime Jacksonville political consultant who is not involved in the mayor's race, says the investigation could have a major impact on the race.

"Politics is like the hula dance, every move means something," said Daigle. "The reaction from the Davis camp was very swift and seems to be effective. If they are successful on turning this around and pinning the JEA scandal on Cumber instead of him, it will be the thing that makes the most difference in this race."

Council Members Rory Diamond and Nick Howland are the chair and vice-chair of the investigatory committee. Council Member Matt Carlucci has a problem with those members in those positions and says Diamond and Howland already expressed a bias.

"They're both supporting the other candidate for mayor, and they've been made chair and vice chair of the committee, that's not fair," said Carlucci, "I wouldn't wish that on any of my colleagues, I wouldn't wish that on Daniel Davis."

Carlucci also said that he thinks the investigatory committee should have only been formed if an outside group like the ethics committee or the State Attorney called for an investigation.

"We have a fiduciary duty to our colleagues and our constituents to uphold trust and when an elected official, or anybody for that matter, loses trust, you've lost your greatest asset," said Carlucci, "I just think this process lacks the trust that needs to be there.  

The first meeting of the reanimated JEA committee is set for Wednesday, Feb. 8 at 8:30 a.m.

Before You Leave, Check This Out