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Wednesday, August 3, 2022

State panel dismisses ethics complaint filed by Villager against Sumter commissioner 

Sumter County Commissioner Roberta Ulrich speaks at Thursdays candidate forum
Sumter County Commissioner Roberta Ulrich

An ethics complaint against Sumter County Commissioner Roberta Ulrich was dismissed at a meeting late last month of the Florida Commission on Ethics.

Filed about two months ago by Villager Gilbert Windsor, the complaint was among 11 dismissed at the commission’s July 22 meeting for “legal sufficiency.”

The complaint alleged that Ulrich, who is running for her office in the Aug. 23 Republican primary against Villager Reed Panos, committed a violation by voting on three measures at a May 24 county meeting related to a proposed distribution center along State Road 44 near the Florida Turnpike.

A land use plan amendment, zoning change and special use permit for the center were requested by GOP political activist Carlos Beruff, whose associated companies donated $5,000 in April to Ulrich’s campaign. The three measures passed unanimously.

Carlos Beruff speaks to The Villages Tea Party in 2016.

Ulrich later pushed back against the allegation during a candidate forum sponsored by The Villages Republican Club, asserting that she had done nothing wrong.

A commission press release stated that no factual investigations were done on the 11 dismissed complaints.

“Commission’s conclusions do not reflect the accuracy of the allegations made in this complaints,” the release stated. “These reviews are limited to questions of jurisdiction and determinations as to whether the contents of the complaint are adequate to allege a violation of the Code of Ethics or other laws within the commission’s jurisdiction.”

At the same meeting, the ethics commission decided to recommend to the governor a $1,500 civil penalty, public censure and reprimand against Beruff, who has served on several public boards, for failure to disclose assets on 2013 and 2014 financial disclosure forms. The decision upheld the ruling by an administrative law judge.

Ulrich was appointed as commissioner earlier this year by Gov. Ron DeSantis to replace Gary Search, who was removed after he and former commissioner Oren Miller were charged with perjury for lying to an investigator during a probe of alleged violations of Florida’s Sunshine Law. They were not charged with Sunshine Law violations.

Search reached a plea agreement and Miller faces a trial on the perjury charge in Marion County on Aug. 23.


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