Orlando Commissioner Daisy Lynum did nothing wrong when she called the police chief in the middle of the night as her son was being pulled over by a patrolman, the Florida Ethics Commission ruled Friday.
Lynum, who is black, has faced criticism since her call to then-police Chief Michael McCoy in 2006 was first reported by the Orlando Sentinel. Many residents called for her ouster over her accusations of racial profiling and her use of the term "white boy" to describe the officer who stopped her son for a broken headlight.
But an all-white ethics panel voted unanimously that Lynum never misused her authority.
"It has been very difficult for three years to be maligned and represented in the press as a raving maniac," Lynum said Friday, adding that she thinks racial profiling is still a problem in Orlando and across the country.
Mark NeJame, one of her attorneys, said Lynum was "completely exonerated."
"The allegations against her had no merit," he said. "They should never have been brought."
The controversy started just before 1 a.m. on May 6, 2006, when a rookie officer on his first solo patrol stopped Juan Lynum, who had just left a fraternity party, about a mile from his home in west Orlando.
Unaware of the broken headlight, Lynum, then 30, said he thought he was being profiled and feared for his safety.
He called his mother during the stop and asked her to call the chief. She called McCoy, who asked a supervisor to look into it. She also called the police officer assigned to her City Hall office, who contacted the officer at the scene.
Juan Lynum was released without receiving a ticket. The commissioner, upon learning later that night of the reason for the traffic stop, asked that the citation be mailed to her, and she paid it.
Orlando resident Dick Spears filed a citizen complaint.
State lawyers who acted as prosecutors in the case accused Lynum of abusing her authority and trying to get out of a traffic citation, and said she should be fined $10,000. An administrative-law judge disagreed, saying Lynum wasn't trying to avoid a ticket — but he still recommended she be censured and reprimanded.
The ethics panel, however, took the unusual step of overriding that recommendation.
"They felt like there was not sufficient evidence in the record to find that she acted corruptly," said Ethics Commission Executive Director Philip Claypool.
Rick Jancha, who also represented Lynum, said she would have made the same call on behalf of any of her constituents.
"She was acting on behalf of her son and as a city commissioner," Jancha said. "What the Ethics Commission said today is that what Commissioner Lynum did is what a city commissioner should do."
Source: Orlando Sentinel