FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - The Florida Ethics Commission cleared a Broward County commissioner to vote on Broward Sheriff's Office issues after the sheriff hired his brother.
The commission ruled that Commissioner Marty Kiar didn't have a conflict of interest after Sheriff Scott Israel hired his brother, former school teacher Marc Kiar. BSO is paying Marc Kiar's way through the police academy and has agreed to hire him upon successful completion.
"I think I have a duty to Broward County taxpayers to vote on the [BSO] 0budget," said Kiar. "I think you'll find I had absolutely nothing to do with my brother getting a job."
Kiar said he introduced Israel to his brother at a campaign event prior to his election and while never asking Israel to hire his brother, told the sheriff that his brother always wanted to be a police officer.
"You don't think that influenced the sheriff to give your brother a job?" asked Local 10's Bob Norman.
"No, not at all," said Kiar, adding that his brother applied for the job on his own.
The ethics commission found that Kiar's votes on the BSO budget wouldn't inure to his brother's "special private gain."
"He would be one of a few thousand employees if he got it," said Kiar, who asked for the ethics opinion after a Local 10 report revealed the hire in May. "It's so far removed from anything I can do."
The ethics commission agreed ruling that any benefit his brother could receive from his votes would be "remote and speculative."
"To the extent that your brother benefits at all," the commission wrote in its opinion to Kiar, "it will not be as a result of the approval of the budget, but rather as result of the way the sheriff chooses to use the funds appropriated."
Interestingly, however, the approval of this year's budget could have a direct impact on Kiar's brother's job. Israel claims large budget shortfalls and has said if the county can't up his budget by $35 million he may be forced to lay off 200 employees or more.
Kiar said whether or not his brother's job is at stake won't impact how he votes. Tuesday he met with BSO's finance director to discuss the agency's budget issues. Kiar said he's unwilling to raise taxes or shift money from other county programs, like mass transit, to satisfy the sheriff's request.
He said the acceptable range for a budget increase for BSO is more in the three to five million dollar range.
"I'm not willing to raise the millage rate," said Kiar. "... I'm hopeful [that] at the end of the day that we'll be able to work this out."
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