The Florida Commission on Ethics has found probable cause that a town mayor allegedly violated state statutes for telling a resident that her neighborhood could get speed bumps – if she had sex with him.
Latana Mayor David Stewart allegedly propositioned town resident Catherine Padilla in 2015, and she accused him in January, according to published reports.
Padilla alleges the mayor repeatedly made the offer to her but she refused. She also claims that after the town council approved the speed bumps project, the mayor allegedly tried to thwart the plan because she refused his advances.
The ethics commission’s finding means that the mayor can either settle the case or have a hearing before an administrative law judge. If a hearing is held and he’s found guilty, Stewart could be suspended or removed from office, the Palm Beach Post reported. A civil penalty consisting of a $10,000 fine, per violation, could also apply.
The alleged violation stems from the mayor using his position and power to benefit himself or solicit “something of value from a constituent with the understanding that his vote, official action or judgment would be influenced,” according to the report.
“The mayor should be ashamed for what he did,” Padilla told the newspaper. “I think it’s time he steps down. He needs to be accountable for his actions and he needs to do the right thing and step down.”
“If there’s anybody else that has had this happen to them out there, please come forward now because it’s not too late,” she added.
What is the mayor's response?
Stewart has denied the allegations. He reportedly told a commission investigator that Padilla was pressured by someone else to come forward.
“I think someone is trying to encourage her to do it. I don’t think that this was her idea,” the mayor reportedly said.
Padilla filed an ethics commission complaint on Jan. 2, 2018, according to the news outlet. Stewart allegedly “drove her to a motel one day after they had lunch at Flanigan’s Seafood Bar and Grill in Lake Worth and said he wanted to ‘occupy’ a room with her, according to her complaint. She later told The Post the mayor said he wanted to have sex with her in the room. She told him ‘no’ and did not get out of the car.”
After the complaint was filed, Stewart reportedly went to Padilla’s home to talk to her about it. He allegedly knocked on the side door, and Padilla shut the blinds and locked the door. She also claimed Stewart rattled the door.
Stewart said he simply knocked on the door and got in his vehicle and left after she did not answer.
Police had described his visit as a “suspicious incident,” but took no other action, the Palm Beach Post reported.