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Lake Shore Hosp Auth News

Lake Shore Hosp Auth: Jackson P. "Jack" Berry. Ethics Issues Again. Fails to File Financial Disclosures for 2010 & 2011


If Mr. Berry would have filed, his name would be here. ++ Click here to enlarge.

COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL –  Lake Shore Hospital Authority Manager and quintessential public figure Jackson P. "Jack" Berry failed to file state mandated financial disclosures for 2010 and 2011 according to both the Columbia County Supervisor of Elections Office and the Florida Commission on Ethics.

Mr. Berry, as the Lake Shore Hospital Authority Manager, acts in a similar capacity as the county manager or the city manager. Both the Florida Ethics Laws and recent ethics financial disclosure opinions require Mr. Berry to file yearly financial disclosure forms.

The Columbia County Supervisor of Elections Office is the place where the Hospital Authority's Berry, as well as all officials that reside in Columbia County, must file their forms.

A recent public records request returned the following response from the Sup. of Elections Office: The Columbia County Supervisor of Elections does not have Financial Disclosures for Jackson P. Berry for the years 2010 and 2011.

Jack BerryAuthority Manager Berry is a widely known public figure and political operative with four decades on the political map:

In 1976 he ran for Sheriff in Columbia County and lost; in and about 1984 Mr. Berry sued the Columbia County Sheriff in Federal Court for violating his civil rights and lost; in 1992 Mr. Berry ran for County Commissioner in Suwannee County and lost; between 1975-2005 Mr. Berry was President of Berry International Detective Services and was known throughout the area as a "Repo Man"; between 1992-1996 Mr. Berry was Chair of the Suwannee County Republican Executive Committee; in 2004-2006 Mr. Berry was Chair of the Columbia County Republican Executive Committee; in 2004, Gov. Jeb Bush appointed Mr. Berry to the Authority Board, where he served 2 years as chairman; in 2004 Mr. Berry, while Chair of the Republican Committee, in a widely known incident had the Lake City Police Department issue trespass warnings against two little old ladies who wanted to campaign for George Bush, but didn't agree with his views on other issues; in 2006 Mr. Berry sued two Columbia County Commissioners and a private person because he didn't agree with their views – the case was dismissed.

In 2007 Mr. Berry agreed to a consent order by the Florida Elections Commission that he violated the FL election code and paid a fine.

Financial Disclosure Coordinator

Each agency appoints a financial disclosure coordinator. The disclosure coordinator reports to the Commission on Ethics who was in office so they can put together the official list of people required to file disclosure.

According to the records of the Commission on Ethics, Hospital Authority employee, Sue Fraze, became the financial disclosure coordinator in 2003. A check of the official minutes of the Authority is silent on this issue.

At the time of Mr. Berry's appointment to the position of Authority Manager, he became its Chief Operating Officer and it appears he should have taken over the position or appointed someone to that position. The Observer could find no official record indicating either.

According to Kerry Stillman at the Florida Commission on Ethics: "The law requires that no later than 30 days before July 1 of each year the Commission and each Supervisor of Elections has to mail a copy of the form, notice forms, and deadlines for each person that’s required to file a statement of financial interest. There is a provision of notice within the statute. It’s done by the Supervisor of Elections or the Commission on Ethics depending on the person’s position."

Ms. Stillman continued, "If a coordinator realizes that they have left somebody off they can add that person to the list. We are still populating that list now for those who will be filing this summer."

More LSHA
stories are here.

Trouble with Florida Ethics is nothing new for Mr. Berry

Trouble with the Florida Ethics Commission is nothing new for Mr. Berry, who had report filing issues in 2007 which resulted in a fine of $750. In relevant part the Commission on Ethics found that Mr. Berry, "Knew or should have known the requirements for filing reports."

Berry Still Had To File

The Observer asked Ms. Stillman, "If Mr. Berry is left off the list does he still have to file?"

Ms. Stillman said she would check with the Commission Attorneys and call back.

About fifteen minutes later Ms. Stillman told the Observer, "I spoke to one of our attorneys and she said, yes indeed -- the statutory requirement to file disclosure does still hold even if someone is not on the list.

Epilogue

The saga of Jackson P. Berry, one of Florida's quintessential public figures, Gov. Jeb Bush appointee and Columbia County good ole boy continues.

It's business as usual in Columbia County, Florida.

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