Santa Rosa County Commissioner Robert A. “Bob” Cole has been ordered to pay a $500 fine after he entered a plea of no contest to one count of a non-criminal violation of the Florida Sunshine Law. According to a release issued by State Attorney Bill Eddins’ office, Walton County Judge David Green imposed the maximum fine allowed under Florida law. Judge Green heard the case because all Santa Rosa County Judges recused themselves.
The Sunshine Law Violation stems from Cole’s membership on the Milton Downtown Redevelopment Advisory Board. At a Jan. 15 meeting of DRAB, Milton City Councilman Jimmy Messick publicly questioned a motion Cole made during the meeting. Messick said prior to the meeting, he observed Cole and fellow DRAB member Elba Robertson discussing Milton resident Kim Macarthy’s nomination to the DRAB.
After discussion and comments by board members, Cole apologized to the group saying “I should have known better.”
First Judicial Circuit State Attorney Bill Eddins’ office Jan. 20 received a copy of an audio recording of the meeting which includes the accusation by Messick and subsequent apology from Cole.
Previous Sunshine Law complaints filed with Eddins against Cole in 2008 did not result in prosecution