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Ethics Lawyer: Lynum should be fined $10,000

A lawyer from the Florida Attorney General's Office says Orlando Commissioner Daisy Lynum is guilty of misusing her position and should be fined $10,000 by the Florida Ethics Commission.

But Lynum's attorney said she's innocent, and was simply acting as a concerned parent -- not a city commissioner -- when she called the police chief during a late-night traffic stop involving her son.

Both opinions were just filed in official court papers, and now it's up to a judge to decide which side is right.

The ethics case dates back to 2006, when the commissioner's son, Juan Lynum, was pulled over in Parramore just before 1 a.m. about a mile from his home. A rookie officer on his first night of solo patrol stopped him because the car had a headlight out.

Juan Lynum, unaware of the busted headlight, said he thought he was being racially profiled and feared for his safety. He called his mother during the stop and asked her to call the police chief. Commissioner Lynum called then-Chief Mike 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.

The commissioner's son was released without receiving a ticket, but a few hours later, a supervisor who reviewed the incident ordered that a citation be mailed to Lynum.

All the parties testified at a hearing on the matter in October, but the judge still hasn't issued a decision.

A lawyer with the Attorney General's Office -- acting as a prosecutor in the case -- argues that Lynum was using her authority to try to avoid the ticket, and that the allegation of racial profiling was just a ruse. Attorney Jennifer Erlinger recommended Lynum be fined $10,000, publicly censured and reprimanded. That's the maximum fine the Ethics Commission can impose, but still stops short of suspension or removal from office.

Rick Jancha, Lynum's attorney, says the commissioner just wanted to make sure her son wasn't harmed during the traffic stop, and never asked that a ticket not be issued. McCoy's testimony backed up that account.

Administrative Law Judge Daniel Manry is expected to issue an order in the coming weeks. Manry's recommendation will then be voted on by the Ethics Commission, which has the final say.

Copyright © 2009, Orlando Sentinel
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