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Ethics Complaint Filed Against Jacksonville Mayor Chief Of Staff

City Hall
Ray Hollister

A civil-rights group has filed an ethics complaint against Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry’s chief of staff.

The complaint stems from a city audit finding she improperly diverted $317,000 dollars from four Northside redevelopment projects to a consulting group, where she later got a job.

According to a city audit, Kerri Stewart was the director of the city’s Housing and Neighborhoods Division in 2007, when she negotiated and approved a no-bid contract awarding the money to consulting firm, Infinity Global Solutions. Stewart then worked for IGS in 2011 before returning to City Hall as Curry’s Chief of Staff.

Jacksonville City Councilman Reggie Brown ordered the city audit after projects in his district went unfinished. Now, Southern Christian Leadership Conference Board Chairman Juan Gray is asking the city Ethics Commission to review the case.

MORE: Continue reading for the entire complaint.

“If ever there was a case of economic injustice, this is it,” he said.

Per the auditor’s request, the mayor has filed a bill that would return the money to Brown’s district, but he told the Florida Times-Union he stands by Stewart completely.

Still, Gray said the auditor’s recommendations don't go far enough, so he’s planning to file an ethics complaint against him too.

“He didn't fully follow what he was supposed to have done because we found instances where in one case stiffer recommendations were made. In this case, they were inadequate at best,” he said.

The ethics commission can’t comment on pending complaints, but if it finds probable cause, it could initiate an investigation, which would result in penalties or criminal charges. 

Ryan Benk is a former WJCT News reporter who joined the station in 2015 after working as a news researcher and reporter for NPR affiliate WFSU in Tallahassee.