The Sebastian City Council voted to file a complaint with the State of Florida accusing Damien Gilliams of violating at least three Florida Ethics laws.
“It is a conflict of interest for Damien Gilliams to vote to make funds available to businesses then apply for the funds the next day,” Councilman Jim Hill told Sebastian Daily.
Hill says state statute requires people in public office to abstain from voting when they benefit financially from their vote.
“Damien Gilliams then wrongfully made copies of a ‘draft’ application, not available to the public, and distributed them to some of his friends and turned his in first to be first on a list for the first come first serve process. In total, I believe he violated at least three Florida Ethics laws in the process and must be held accountable,” Hill said.
Ironically, the vote was unanimous 5-0. Gilliams stated he has nothing to hide and is about “transparency.”
Although Mayor Ed Dodd did vote to move forward with the complaint, he didn’t see anything wrong with Gilliams collecting a grant for his business, but he didn’t realize a Florida State Statue forbids elected officials from voting in reference to money they will receive.
Last month, Gilliams faced public scrutiny after making copies of a sample grant application from his packet and then being first to apply for the $5,000 grant money before the program was made available to the public.
Gilliams then took it upon himself to notify a few businesses about the grant monies before the program was available to the community. This angered local businesses.
However, Gilliams’ application along with other applicants were denied. The applicants were told they had to wait and resubmit when the program was made available to the public. Once the City announced the program, Gilliams again was first to submit his application before anyone else.
Gilliams then accused the City of Sebastian of “dragging its feet” with the process. However, City Manager Paul Carlisle and Mayor Ed Dodd said they were waiting for the county to make changes to the application.
Several local businesses were upset about Gilliams’ behavior with the grant applications. Many of them also filed an ethics complaint against Gilliams, calling his behavior “self-serving before the community’s needs.”
However, Gilliams insists that he didn’t do anything improper by applying for business grant monies that he voted on.