STATE OF FLORIDA
COMMISSION ON ETHICS
In re TANIT ROMERO, )
Respondent. ) Complaint No. 97-019
) DOAH No. 98-5618EC
) Final Order No. COE 99-15
FINAL ORDER AND PUBLIC REPORT
This matter came before the State of Florida Commission on Ethics, meeting in public session on September 2, 1999, pursuant to the Recommended Order of the Division of Administrative Hearings' Administrative Law Judge rendered in this matter on July 8, 1999 [a copy of which is attached and incorporated by reference]. The Administrative Law Judge recommends that the Commission enter a final order and public report finding that the Respondent, TANIT ROMERO, violated Section 112.313(6), Florida Statutes, recommending a civil penalty of $1,000 be imposed upon her, and recommending that she be publicly reprimanded and censured.
STANDARDS FOR REVIEW
Under Section 120.57(1)(l), Florida Statutes, an agency may reject or modify the conclusions of law and interpretations of administrative rules contained in the recommended order. However, the agency may not reject or modify findings of fact made by the Administrative Law Judge unless a review of the entire record demonstrates that the findings were not based on competent, substantial evidence or that the proceedings on which the findings were based did not comply with the essential requirements of law. See, e.g., Freeze v. Dept. of Business Regulation, 556 So.2d 1204 (Fla. 5th DCA 1990); and Florida Department of Corrections v. Bradley, 510 So.2d 1122 (Fla. 1st DCA 1987). Competent, substantial evidence has been defined by the Florida Supreme Court as such evidence as is "sufficiently relevant and material that a reasonable mind would accept it as adequate to support the conclusions reached." DeGroot v. Sheffield, 95 So.2d 912, 916 (Fla. 1957).
The agency may not reweigh the evidence, resolve conflicts therein, or judge the credibility of witnesses, because those are matters within the sole province of the hearing officer. Heifetz v. Dept. of Business Regulation, 475 So.2d 1277, 1281 (Fla. 1st DCA 1985). Consequently, if the record of the DOAH proceedings discloses any competent, substantial evidence to support a finding of fact made by the Administrative Law Judge, the Commission is bound by that finding.
Under the Section 120.57(1)(l), Florida Statutes, an agency may reject or modify the conclusions of law over which it has substantive jurisdiction and interpretations of administrative rules over which it has substantive jurisdiction. When rejecting or modifying such conclusion of law or interpretation of administrative rule the agency must state with particularity its reasons for rejecting or modifying such conclusion of law or interpretation of administrative rule and must make a finding that its substituted conclusion of law or interpretation of administrative rule is as or more reasonable than that which was rejected or modified.
FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSION OF LAW
Neither the Respondent nor the Commission's Advocate filed exceptions to the Recommended Order. The complete record of this matter under Section 120.57(1)(f), Florida Statutes, also was not placed before the Commission. Therefore, after considering the Recommended Order in public session pursuant to notice to the Advocate and the Respondent, the Commission adopts the Recommended Order in full.
Accordingly, the Commission on Ethics finds that the Respondent, TANIT ROMERO, as Claims Administrator in the Risk Management Division at Metro Dade County, violated Section 112.313(6), Florida Statutes.
Pursuant to Sections 112.317(1) and 112.324(4), Florida Statutes, it is the recommendation of the Commission on Ethics that the Respondent be publicly censured and reprimanded and that a civil penalty in the amount of $1,000.00 (One Thousand dollars) be imposed against her.
ORDERED by the State of Florida Commission on Ethics meeting in public session on September 2, 1999.
Peter M. Dunbar
THIS ORDER CONSTITUTES FINAL AGENCY ACTION. ANY PARTY WHO IS ADVERSELY AFFECTED BY THIS ORDER HAS THE RIGHT TO SEEK JUDICIAL REVIEW UNDER SECTION 120.68, FLORIDA STATUTES, BY FILING A NOTICE OF ADMINISTRATIVE APPEAL PURSUANT TO RULE 9.110 FLORIDA RULES OF APPELLATE PROCEDURE, WITH THE CLERK OF THE COMMISSION ON ETHICS, 2822 REMINGTON GREEN CIRCLE, SUITE 101, P.O. DRAWER 15709, TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA 32317-5709; AND BY FILING A COPY OF THE NOTICE OF APPEAL ATTACHED TO WHICH IS A CONFORMED COPY OF THE ORDER DESIGNATED IN THE NOTICE OF APPEAL ACCOMPANIED BY THE APPLICABLE FILING FEES WITH THE APPROPRIATE DISTRICT COURT OF APPEAL. THE NOTICE OF ADMINISTRATIVE APPEAL MUST BE FILED WITHIN 30 DAYS OF THE DATE THIS ORDER IS RENDERED.
cc: Ms. Tanit Romero, Respondent
Mr. Eric S. Scott, Commission Advocate
Mr. David Paulus, Complainant