Former Cape Coral mayor found not guilty of ethics violation

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FILE: Former Cape Coral Mayor Marni Sawicki

Former Cape Coral Mayor Marni Sawicki was found not guilty Friday of an ethics violation.

An ethics commission in Tallahassee found no probable cause to believe Sawicki violated any state statues, according to State Ethics Public Information Officer Kerrie Stillman.

“The Commission adopted the recommendation of the Advocate, finding no probable cause. It was a unanimous decision,” Stillman said in a statement.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement launched an investigation in the summer of 2017 in regards to an ethics complaint.

MORE: Cape Coral council, community react to mayor’s decision to not seek re-election

Former City Councilman Richard Leon called on the state ethics commission to investigate Sawicki in August 2016, accusing her of accepting gifts — including a $3,500 diamond ring and a lease for a $47,000 Audi — from a city vendor.

The gifts came from Brian Rist, president and CEO of the parent company of Storm Smart Industries, which has sponsored the city’s Red, White, and Boom event on the Fourth of July. The gifts came while Rist and Sawicki were romantically involved, he said.

The FDLE never said whether the investigation is linked to that ethics complaint.

Sawicki later released the following statement addressing the results of the investigation:

“I’m excited to finally be able to put this behind me and move on. It’s unfortunate that a small group of residents including current and former Councilmembers chose to focus on my personal life instead of the needs of the city they were elected to oversee. I’m looking forward to the next chapter of my life,” Sawicki said. 

Sawicki also took to Facebook Friday morning to call out Leon and other council members asking for an apology:


While councilmember Jessica Cosden declined to comment, Leon later released the following statement:

“I cannot thank the Ethics Commision enough for recognizing that the former Mayor needed to answer some questions regarding her past conduct. The year and a half investigation into the extra curricular activities was completed and all Florida residents should be proud that this board stands ready to hold elected officials across this state accountable.” 

When asked if she would be filing a lawsuit, Sawicki responded, “I will be going after those that have falsely accused, yes.”

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