Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Thrasher Cleared of Ethics Violation in Hauling Case; Commissioner Says He Withdrew His Name as Representative before Vote

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Thrasher Cleared of Ethics Violation in Hauling Case; Commissioner Says He Withdrew His Name as Representative before Vote

Article excerpt

Byline: DEBORAH CEARNAL

County Commissioner John Thrasher broke no laws when he voted to award a contract to a company he had represented as a lobbyist, a state ethics commission reprentative says.

Thrasher has done no recent work for Advanced Disposal and withdrew his name as a company lobbyist shortly before the commission approved a contract with the company.

"Many commissioners must have other jobs, because those [County Commission seats] aren't considered full-time jobs," said Chris Anderson, an attorney with the state's ethics commission.

Thrasher's work for Advanced Disposal Services, the company given the contract for countywide garbage pickup, came to light at Tuesday's commission meeting.

"Is it true that Mr. Thrasher was Advanced Disposal's lobbyist until just hours before he voted to award the trash contract to the company in September?" political activist Durwood Smith read from a statement during the meeting.

Smith's question was met with silence, as was a similar one from resident Linda Crawford.

Thrasher provided an explanation after the meeting.

Having been somewhat out of the loop following surgery for prostate cancer on Aug. 23 and in preparing for the Sept. 12 commission meeting, Thrasher realized he was registered in Tallahassee as a lobbyist for Advanced. It was the day the commission was to vote on hiring a firm to pick up homeowners' trash throughout the county.

He called his Southern Strategy Group office in the state capital, telling personnel to withdraw his name as a representative for the Jacksonville company, he said.

"We did represent them [Advanced]," Thrasher said after the commission meeting. "I saw it on the agenda and immediately called my office and had them remove me [as Advanced's lobbyist]. I hadn't done anything for them in quite a while."

Anderson said an attorney may be an elected official, but that attorney cannot "take off his official's hat and go represent his client" before the elected body. "The question is the interface between the private client and the public board," he said.

At the Tuesday commission meeting, Crawford, who is vice president of Clay Action Network, asked if Thrasher was indeed the lobbyist for Advanced. …

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