Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Wallace Defends Actions at FSCJ; Final State Report Cites Possible Ethics Violations in Ex-President's Expenses

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Wallace Defends Actions at FSCJ; Final State Report Cites Possible Ethics Violations in Ex-President's Expenses

Article excerpt

Byline: Andrew Pantazi

Despite a state report that he may have violated the code of ethics and could face a public reprimand or a fine for accepting free trips, former Florida State College at Jacksonville President Steve Wallace still believes he's innocent.

The final review of the Florida State College Foundation released this week by Florida Chief Inspector General Melinda Miguel recommended the foundation and Wallace be reviewed by the ethics commission. She also advised the foundation and college on policy changes to prevent ethical violations. Both recommendations appeared in Miguel's draft report issued last month.

"[T]here is reasonable belief," Miguel wrote, "that the former College President may have violated the following section of the Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees based on his receipt of numerous trips."

Wallace could be reprimanded and fined thousands of dollars in civil penalties. He wrote a letter to Miguel that said, "I continue to believe that my actions relative to community service travel conformed to the requirements of Florida Statute 112.3148."

He sent a copy of the letter to interim college President Willis Holcombe. In Holcombe's letter to Miguel, he and the chair of college board of trustees and the chair of the college foundation board of directors said they agreed "that the recommendations are appropriate and consistent with the findings. ... We will fully cooperate with the Commission [on Ethics] in any subsequent review or investigation."

According to the college website, the board of trustees will meet Tuesday and discuss the report.

A month ago, when the draft was first made public, Gov. Rick Scott said it exposed "egregious and irresponsible actions" by Wallace that questioned how well the foundation handled public money. The only changes to the report draft were the response letters from those involved in the report.

Scott ordered the investigation in October after a series of articles in the Times-Union showed Wallace's use of college and foundation money for meals, travel and other expenses. …

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