Duval County

‘Punishment politics:’ Deegan doubles down on support for DeFoor as next general counsel

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Jacksonville City Council members on Tuesday night overwhelmingly voted for an emergency bill asking the state ethics commission whether former council member Randy DeFoor can serve as the city’s top attorney.

On Wednesday, Mayor Donna Deegan held a news conference to address the council’s decision.

>>> STREAM ACTION NEWS JAX LIVE <<<

Deegan explained her decision to appoint DeFoor and continued to support her to be city’s next general counsel.

At Tuesday night’s council meeting, Council President Ron Salem said that he and other council members have more questions about confirming DeFoor that they want answered.

“We need to vote for the emergency, have the workshop Monday, get all of our questions on the table. With the emergency as I understand it, they will send an immediate response to the ethics commission if we cote this out tonight, and they will follow up after our workshop Monday with additional information,” Salem said.

[DOWNLOAD: Free Action News Jax app for alerts as news breaks]

At the workshop next Monday, council members can submit any questions they have about the appointment of DeFoor as general counsel.

Deegan on Wednesday doubled-down on her support of the former council member, adding that every legal and ethics expert that she and her team have consulted about DeFoor’s appointment saw no issues. She called the added scrutiny of DeFoor “punishment politics.”

“The reason we did not ask for this opinion earlier is because every single one of those people told us that this is not an issue. That general counsel is not a policymaker, that general council represents the mayor and represents the council, and is not a lobbyist,” Deegan said.

[SIGN UP: Action News Jax Daily Headlines Newsletter]

Councilman Terrance Freeman released a statement in response to Deegan’s news conference, saying in part:

“Last night’s resolution for an ethics opinion received nearly unanimous approval from the City Council - from both Republicans and Democrats alike. Mayor Deegan’s attacks on the duly elected Legislative Branch is disappointing and flies in the face of the positive message of unity that the Mayor campaigned on.

“The only person ‘playing politics’ with this appointment is Mayor Donna Deegan.”

Action News Jax’s Jimmy Marlow has reached out to Salem and he said he will address all the questions about the ethics committee and DeFoor’s appointment after next Monday’s workshop.

Click here to download the free Action News Jax news and weather apps, click here to download the Action News Jax Now app for your smart TV and click here to stream Action News Jax live.