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Matt Shirk hires those closest to him

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Updated: 9/12/2013 8:04 pm
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Action News takes a closer look at who public defender Matt Shirk has hired in his office.

We also had a chance to talk with one of the women caught up in the scandal in the public defender’s office: Matt Shirk’s wife, Michelle.

Michelle Shirk sat down with Action News anchor Lynnsey Gardner for more than an hour Thursday.

She is not ready to talk on camera about this painful chapter in her life.

She did tell Lynnsey she does not regret the confrontation with one of Matt Shirk’s female staffers inside her husband’s office in June. That staffer would be fired less than two weeks later.

Michelle Shirk said she did what any self-respecting woman would do.

She said she is still hurt by her husband’s actions, and what she calls the betrayal of the people Matt Shirk surrounded himself with. These are people they both knew well.

Michelle Shirk said she is still undecided about her future with her husband. As for his political career, she hopes he does the right thing.

As for the people Matt Shirk surrounded himself with, Michelle Shirk said that began not long after voters elected him to the office of public defender in 2008.

One of his first hires was Alton Kelly as lead investigator. Kelly is someone Shirk knew before the election.

On Wednesday, we uncovered a text message from Shirk to Kelly back in August. The message came the morning of the first story about issues in the public defender’s office.

Part of the message said Shirk gave Kelly an $85,000 a year job. Shirk called it "the most cushion job" he could give someone.

Another early hire was Ron Mallett.

Sources tell Action News Mallett met Shirk in 2008 as Shirk campaigned to become public defender.

Records obtained by Action News show Mallett contributed $100 to Shirk’s campaign that year.

Shirk hired Mallett in early 2009, first as part-time budget director. Three months later Shirk promoted Mallett to Public Information Officer.

Records show Mallett and his wife each donated $500 to Shirk’s re-election campaign.

After winning re-election, Shirk promoted Mallett to a full-time position as Division Director 2. He calls Mallett his Chief of Staff.

For that position, Mallett earns $98,600 a year, plus benefits. Mallett also has a second job, as the CFO of Thigpen Heating and Cooling.

Also in that first year in office, Shirk hired childhood friend Matt Bisbee to serve as his Public Information Officer. It is a position that pays $80,000. Bisbee moved to Florida for the job in July of 2009.

Shirk hired Refik Eler to serve as chief assistant public defender. Records show Eler served as a private practice attorney before accepting the position. Eler contributed $250 to Shirk’s initial campaign. Eler also contributed to Shirk’s re-election campaign. Eler earns $143,000.

John Holzbaur lives on the same street as Matt Shirk. He donated $250 to Shirk’s campaign.  In 2012, Shirk made Holzbaur the director of a new position, heading the new Veterans Court.

Holzbaur earns $86,000 a year, according to state records.

Records obtained by Action News also show Shirk's office hired two waitresses from Whisky River in May and June. Both were fired within their first month of employment.
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The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of Action News Jacksonville

king kaos - 9/13/2013 9:29 AM
0 Votes
Action News and more important Lynnsey Gardner: you had to DIG to figure out someone hires thier friends when they can??? WOW GOOD JOB! GUESS WHAT, I have a company and I hire my friends too!!! For 2 reasons, I KNOW HOW GOOD OR BAD THEY ARE(I KNOW WHAT TO EXPECT) and since Im all "Growded up" my friends are people I have met in the industry or in college. So AGAIN, WHERES THE NEWS WITH THIS STORY??? Even your own people are turning on you, "Even though Matt Shirk didnt do anything illegal, he may have done some things that people dont fine right" morning news on the radio that I listen to when I drive in... so come on already GO AFTER STUFF THAT MATTERS PLEASE!!! Lynnsey Gardner, you are petty and ridiculous, if we look into why you are tagging this guy so hard would we find its for the same reasons you are claiming hes bad(i.e. helping a friend, mad from rejection, etc???"). you guys are my favorite, get rid of Gardner and this story PLEASE!!!

KristinArmani - 9/13/2013 9:03 AM
2 Votes
Michelle stated that "she does not regret the confrontation with one of Matt Shirk’s female staffers inside her husband’s office in June". She said "she did what any self-respecting woman would do". HAHA Where was this self respecting woman when Matt was married to his first wife? If he cheats with you he will cheat on you! She isn't very bright, she is getting a little of what she gave to the first Mrs. Shirk! Don't feel sorry for her one bit! As far as hiring his friends, Good Grief!!! This guy is off the chain. He really screwed his personal and political life up as well as several innocent employees. Matt, just RESIGN already! Don't worry, you will have a new babe on your arm and will soon forget your mouthy insecure second wife.

TOMMY - 9/13/2013 6:14 AM
1 Vote
This guy is shady and can not be trusted in office, he used his position to get laid, his closest friends have even left their jobs there, why?
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