Miramar commissioner defends himself against allegations of misconduct

'They're trying to hurt me. They're trying to hurt my career,' he says

By Amy Viteri - Investigative Reporter

MIRAMAR, Fla. - A Miramar city commissioner accused of retaliating against female employees sat down with Local 10 News to respond to the allegations.

Miramar Commissioner Maxwell Chambers spoke with Local 10 News investigative reporter Amy Viteri about allegations he behaved unprofessionally and then retaliated against women who reported the issues.

Initially, Chambers said he did not want to comment about the complaints but changed his mind and agreed to an interview the following day.

"I'm a straight up guy," Chambers told Viteri. "You know, I'm honest. I don't have anything to hide."

The complaints began in 2016 with one city worker reporting he verbally harassed her and crossed the line by asking whether he could touch her legs. Chambers denied those claims.

One of the women who filed a complaint against Chambers and who spoke on condition of anonymity said she reported her concerns to human resources staff.

"I spoke to them in reference to his behavior, me feeling as if, you know, he'll try to retaliate against me," she said.

Ultimately, that employee said she chose to resign and submitted a letter in writing. Days later, Chambers filed his own paperwork to fire her, leaving the termination on her record.

Asked about the complaints, Chambers said he fired the woman because she wasn't performing her duties. When asked why he did not let her resign, Chambers said, "I'm not an HR person. I don't know what they did with it, so you have to take it up with HR."

In response to a second complaint by a city supervisor who reported Chambers for addressing a female employee by saying, "What's up sexy?" Chambers stated he was friends with the woman in question.

Despite city records showing he claimed at the time the remark was taken out of context, he refused to say whether he ever made the comment.

"I don't remember if I said that," he said. "I may have. I might not. I don't know. I don't remember."

Then Chambers stated the records provided to Local 10 by the city of Miramar were fabricated as part of an attempt to hurt him professionally.

"You have people here who would do stuff like that," Chambers said.

When asked to clarify whether he meant city employees would falsify records, Chambers confirmed, "Correct. Against me."

Viteri also asked Chambers about the most recent complaint in May. Faye Munnings, assistant city manager at the time, filed a complaint after she said Chambers asked her for hugs more than once and referred to a previous incident regarding hugging and kissing. In her emails, she claimed Chambers seemed upset when she told him his request was inappropriate.

Days after making the complaint, Munnings was demoted and given a pay cut of more than $70,000.
Chambers stated he had no role in her sudden demotion and denied ever asking for a hug.

"She said I asked her for a hug," he said. "That didn't happen."

He declined to comment further on Munnings' allegations. Local 10 learned Munnings has filed a formal grievance with the city over the incident and her demotion. Her attorney, Lindsey Wagner, also confirmed Munnings is considering legal action against the city of Miramar.

Chambers said he had a message for those he believes are behind an effort to get rid of him.

"If you kill my cat, rest assured I have all the weapons to kill your dog. …They're trying to hurt me. They're trying to hurt my career," he said.

Emails show within an hour after Viteri's first interview attempt with Chambers, he suddenly wrote a message to city leaders asking them to deny his legislative aide, Maureen Kohler, access to City Hall "effective immediately."

It was unclear what prompted Chambers to not want Kohler at City Hall.

But sources told Local 10 that no one notified Kohler, who showed up for work. Chambers then wrote another email, upset Kohler was able to get into the office he said she "previously occupied." The message went on to accuse her of stealing paperwork.

Miramar's public records department said Kohler still works for the city, despite several sources saying they were informed this week Kohler was no longer employed there. An employee in Chambers' office who answered the phone first said Kohler was on vacation, but later said she did not know where Kohler was or whether she still worked there.

According to sources, city officials have now requested to meet with Kohler next week.

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