Councilman asks ethics office to look into Sunshine violation

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The race to become the next Jacksonville City Council president is taking some different turns.

Councilman Garrett Dennis said the current vice-president of Council, Aaron Bowman, suggested a private meeting between two elected officials -- a violation of Florida's Sunshine law.

By state law, meetings between two or more council members must be published and open to the public. 

As evidence, Dennis shared emails in which Bowman suggested the two men meet. Dennis responded, "Do you want me to notice the meeting?"  Bowman responded, "I was hoping we could do this in a private setting."

Dennis asked the city's ethics office to look into the issue and scheduled a public meeting Tuesday on the issue, but Bowman declined to attend.

"I am not going to talk about ethics issues in the sunshine," Bowman said. "He is welcome to have that meeting."

Garrett and Council President Anna Lopez Brosche were the only council members who attended.

Bowman told News4jax Tusday afternoon that  since he and the other council members were only talking about Dennis, not legislation, they were not in violation of the law. 

"I think I am probably the most talked about council member, whether good or bad. But I don’t go and chase someone every time I hear something bad about me," Dennis said. "That was a little out of line to call me out on hearsay, so I called the public meeting to stand before my accusers."

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