Holmes Beach commissioner cleared of ethics violation

A libel suit and an ethics investigation has plagued a Holmes Beach commissioner for nearly two years.

Commissioner Jean Peelen announced in an email to city commissioners that the Florida Commission on Ethics has cleared her of wrongdoing after investigating a complaint made in April by John Agnelli.

“I am grateful to have it finished. Between the lawsuit and the ethics complaint, this has been an almost two-year ordeal. Such ordeals certainly make it more difficult to want to serve one’s city,” Peelen stated in the email. “Today I celebrate the end of the stress.”

Agnelli filed a suit against Peelen in October 2012, alleging the commissioner made libelous claims about him in a newsletter to her constituents.

The suit was settled in March in favor of Agnelli, who was awarded damages. The Florida League of Cities paid the $45,500 settlement on Peelen’s behalf.

Holmes Beach is a member of the Florida League of Cities, a group concerned with representing and supporting Florida municipal governments. It offers governments insurance and technical services. The FLC provided Peelen’s defense attorney.

Agnelli also filed a complaint with the Florida Ethics Commission, challenging Peelen’s ability to be represented by an attorney from the FLC.

The ethics commission found no wrongdoing in their investigation.

Agnelli said he was not interviewed after making his initial complaint in writing to the COE.

“It’s another scandal. They white-washed it and pushed it under the rug,” Agnelli said. “Something doesn’t make sense to me. I can’t believe an investigation is called without interviewing the complainant.”


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