NEW: One of two ethics complaints against Lantana mayor thrown out


The Florida Commission on Ethics has dismissed one of two complaints filed by a Lantana resident against the town mayor, David Stewart.

Resident Catherine Padilla filed a complaint against Stewart on March 27 that, according to the ethics commission, accuses him of using sexual innuendo in a conversation with Town Manager Debbie Manzo during a banquet.

The ethics commission voted to dismiss the complaint for lack of legal sufficiency. The only provision of the Code of Ethics that could have applied in this situation was Misuse of Public Position. But the ethics commission said the allegation does not show in a “factual, specific manner” that the alleged conduct was for the purpose of “securing a special private capacity benefit for the respondent or anyone else,” according to documents filed June 13.

Therefore, the complaint was dismissed without investigation, said Kerrie Stillman, director of operations and communications for the commission.

Padilla didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

Stewart said, “It would be inappropriate for me to comment until I’m officially notified by the commission on ethics.”

The Palm Beach Post reached out to Manzo for a comment but she is out of the office.

Padilla’s complaint came out of an Oct. 24 Kiwanis Club banquet at Whistle Stop Lounge in Lantana, according to documents. Padilla said she heard Manzo say she wasn’t happy with her entree selection and the mayor responded, “Well you haven’t tried my meat yet.”

This is the second complaint Padilla has filed against Stewart this year.

The first one was filed Jan. 2. It claimed Stewart said if Padilla had sex with him he would make sure her neighborhood would receive speed bumps — a safety measure she had asked the town to install.

The state commission notified Stewart of the complaint, as is protocol. And on Jan. 11, Stewart went to Padilla’s home to talk about the complaint, according to the statement he gave to Lantana Police. Padilla did not let him inside. Police described the visit as a “suspicious incident.”

Stewart told The Post that Padilla’s claims are false.

There has been no public update to that case.



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