12th Judicial Circuit Judge Janette Dunnigan in an email helps State Attorney candidate Ed Brodsky with a fundraiser. The email was sent during working hours, from Judge Dunnigan’s Chambers on her Judical computer, using her government email address.
The email was sent to Walt Smith, Sarasota County Court Administrator and forwarded to Ed Brodsky, who works for Earl Moreland the State Attorney, again via government emails and during working hours. The email was to have Walt Smith tell Ed Brodsky that Judge Dunnigan had secured Ed Chiles to host a fundraiser for Brodsky. The email violates Canon 7 of the Judicial Code of Ethics and it is also a crime. Cannon 7 states all judges shall not “publicly endorse or publicly oppose another candidate for public office.”
Following is the full text of the email sent by Judge Dunnigan:
From: Ed Brodsky [mailto:EBRODSKY@scgov.net]
Sent: Monday, April 04, 2011 9:44 AM
To: Ed Brodsky (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Subject: FW: SAO
From: Walt Smith
Sent: Monday, April 04, 2011 9:44:23 AM
To: Ed Brodsky
Subject: Fwd: SAO
Auto forwarded by a Rule
Begin forwarded message:
From: “Janette Dunnigan” <JDunnigan@jud12.flcourts.org>
Date: April 4, 2011 9:42:34 AM EDT
To: “Walt Smith” <WSmith@jud12.flcourts.org>
You can tell Ed Brodsky that Ed Chiles will support him and do a fundraiser up here. I talked with him on Saturday. I got the impression that Ed had already met with him. If that is not the case, then he should arrange that soon. He said it was Earl’s man?? Tell Brodsky to mention my name when he calls. J
NOTE: SAO refers to the State Attorney’s Office.
The reference in Judge Dunnigan’s email to Brodsky being “Earl’s man?” refers to Earl Moreland, the State Attorney for the 12th Circuit. Moreland has endorsed Brodsky who works for Moreland in the State Attorney’s Office, 12th Judicial Circuit.
Mr. Ed Chiles is the son of Lawton Chiles the former Democrat Governor of Florida from 1991 to 1998. Chiles is a local restaurateur and owns the Mar Vista Dockside Restaurant & Bar on Longboat Key, FL and two other restaurants. Ed Chiles has been the Treasurer of the Lawton Chiles Foundation since 1998.
Brodsky is running in the Republican primary against Peter Lombardo. The Lombardo campaign issued the following statement, “It would appear that they do not have to designate it as private until a public record request is made. Then we must rely on their honesty in determining what is public as opposed to private. The problem with that is who will voluntarily hand over E-mails showing ethics violations or criminal activity? Apparently not the 12th Judicial Circuit PIO.”
“It does not surprise us that liberal Ed Brodsky was engaged in effforts to get money from noted Democratic fundraiser Ed Chiles. This is further evidence of Mr. Brodsky being a Republican in name only not a true Republican,” notes the Lombardo campaign.
According to Dennis Menendez, Chief Information Officer for the 12th Circuit, the email from Judge Dunnigan, “was previously reviewed for another public records request and was determined to be a private email not subject to public disclosure pursuant to Florida Rule of Judicial Administration 2.420(c) and case law. See State v. City of Clearwater, 863 So. 2d 149 (Fla. 2003) and In re Amendments to Rule of Judicial Administration 2.051-Public Access to Judicial Records, 651 So. 2d 1185 (Fla. 1995).”