Jacksonville Mayor’s Chief Of Staff Cleared After Complaint Filed Against Him

Feb 16, 2018

Following an investigation, city lawyers said the mayor’s chief of staff didn’t violate any laws, after a Jacksonville City Hall employee this week formally accused him of creating a hostile work environment.

City Council President Anna Lopez Brosche’s Executive Assistant Jeneen Sanders filed the complaint after she said Brian Hughes was aggressive, making her feel unsafe Monday.

The city lawyer’s investigation entailed interviews with Hughes and Sanders and two others present in the mayor’s office lobby during the alleged incident. In addition, the Office of General Counsel lawyer reviewed silent security footage of the two entering the lobby and talking. The conclusion: No federal, state or local laws or policies were violated.

Hughes said in his statement for the investigation he did tell Sanders that a letter her boss sent to JEA was unprofessional and inappropriate, because the mayor's office was mentioned and not provided a copy, but he denies he was threatening or hostile.  

Hughes said in an emailed statement “I'm grateful to the Office of General Counsel - the legal team for the entire COJ government - for conducting this review. With the distraction behind me, I'm proudly working with the mayor and city leaders to accomplish positive results for the people of this great city."

Sanders said in her complaint, Hughes followed her from city council offices to the mayor’s office on the same floor. WJCT requested video that would have captured the entire alleged incident, but staff said none is available. In addition, the City Council receptionist confirmed the lobby area has no cameras.  

It’s proven to be a tense week at City Hall. Monday, Brosche refused to call a Council meeting to hear the findings of a new JEA report after JEA CEO Paul  McElroy requested one. Brosche alleges the mayor’s office wanted her to support emergency legislation regarding starting the process of a sale of the public utility. Mayor Lenny Curry denies this.

Curry called the meeting anyway against Brosche’s wishes. At that meeting, Brosche refused recognize Curry who wanted to speak.

As our News4Jax partner reported, Brosche ordered Hughes’ security badge  access to City Council offices be deactivated, saying he’d have to follow visitor protocol. Thursday morning the mayor’s office reactivated his badge.

Lindsey Kilbride can be reached at lkilbride@wjct.org, 904-358-6359 or on Twitter at @lindskilbride.