Duval County

Jacksonville City Council reopens special investigation committee on Cumber ties to failed JEA sale

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Jacksonville City Council has revived the special investigation committee that looked into the failed sale of JEA, targeting 2023 Jacksonville mayoral candidate and Councilwoman LeAnna Cumber.

Action News Jax first told you Friday that emails resurfaced that linked Cumber’s husband, Husein Cumber, to the JEA sales push and that she didn’t disclose it.

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City Council President Terrance Freeman wants to know if Council was misled by Cumber.

This comes as Cumber is in the middle of a heated mayoral race and has pointed the finger at her main rival, JaxChamber CEO Daniel Davis, raising the question if this is politically motivated.

RELATED: Mayoral candidates trade blows over alleged JEA ties

The stated goal of the committee is to figure out if Cumber violated any rules by not including her husband’s role in a conflict of interest document she signed when Council investigated the failed 2019 sale of JEA.

The special committee will look into three things:

  • Investigate whether the committee was deceived or misled by Cumber or JEA Public Power Partners responding to subpoenas or making disclosures.
  • Figure out if Cumber attempted to use her official position to influence the ITN (Invitation to Negotiate) process for personal gain.
  • Propose legislation to ensure that such deceptions, if any, do not impede the work of any future committee.

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In a statement made by City Councilmember Matt Carlucci representing At-Large Group 4:

“I would only support an investigation on any candidate called for by a serious official like the State Attorney or the General Counsel and not by two politicians playing politics.”

Action News Jax received the following response from Cumber’s attorney Daniel Nunn:

“This manufactured controversy exposes the lengths to which Mayor Curry and his chosen successor will go to win. As a lawyer who investigated the JEA scandal, I found no misconduct by any member of the City Council. If the SIC is to be re-opened, it should also explore the non-disclosure by Chamber employee Aaron Bowman, the job offer to Garrett Dennis, and what the administration knew about it. There is other information that has not yet been made public if the SIC Re-convenes.”

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Bowman released the following statement on Thursday morning in response to Nunn’s statement:

“Unfortunately, one of my colleague’s legal representation has implied that I was involved in behind the scenes activities in the ITN process and selling of JEA to interested parties. I am attaching a quote of how I responded to an investigative reporter on those allegations….

‘She’s the one that must look at herself in the mirror. It’s sad that she chose to hide the truth and attack a colleague. There’s nothing in my activities or family’s background that would show any communication or interaction with any suitor of JEA. I chose to not respond since I saw it as an over-reach of council investigating its own members and their families, and I still do. That’s why we have the IG, Ethics, and Fed that are trained and skilled to investigate. I’m happy to respond to them but it would be a one sentence statement “I did not have any interaction with any JEA suitors, nor did my family.” I truly feel sorry for her. It’s not the person I thought I knew.

‘For her legal representation to attack my family and my professional career is despicable and painful. I have been very silent on the upcoming election to allow the voters to make their own decision. However, as a US Naval Academy graduate, a person that served our country for almost 32 years in the Navy, and for eight years on City Council, I am disgusted that my colleague or their legal representation would attack my character.

‘Unfortunately, politics bring out the worst behavior in people trying to get in positions that they are not well suited. I am frankly appalled and discouraged by those activities and is one of the reasons I am closing the chapter of my elected official life on 1 July of this year. Over the last eight years I have been threatened, stalked, personally sued twice, and now chastised by a colleague. You would hope that it never came from someone sitting next to you for their own political gain.’”

Cumber previously told Action News Jax her husband did not receive any money in his role and she denied any wrongdoing.

Currently, former JEA CEO Aaron Zahn and former CFO Ryan Wannemacher are facing federal fraud charges for their role in the failed sale.

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