I was a little cagey yesterday, so I might as well spill.
Phyllis Hope was at the FBI "party" on December 10, which was floating on the Intracoastal in a regal yacht. She was invited by Beverly Gallagher after undercover agents asked her to invite "influential persons" for the extravagant party on the boat.
Don't know if it was the same one the feds used during the Donnie Brasco case. Almost surely not and I don't know how many times they used it during the investigation. But the image of these school board members living it up on the water is one of my favorite so far from the federal case.
I'm going to reveal my source in due time, but he wasn't a target of the investigation and was there only as an escort. Fitzroy Salesman was the municipal commissioner mentioned in the complaint. Several construction folk were also present.
Word is that Hope enjoyed the food so much she took home doggie bags (hey at least she didn't make like Gallagher and stuff cash in the them).
ADDED: Folks are talking about potential Sunshine Law violations mentioned in yesterday's post. After the jump, you get a rundown of the pertinent part of the law.
Instead, the law is applicable to any gathering, whether formal or casual, of two or more members of the same board or commission to discuss some matter on which foreseeable action will be taken by the public board or commission.
Here's a key passage from the Government-In-The-Sunshine Manual:
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
The Sunshine Law extends to the discussions and deliberations as well as the formal action taken by a public board or commission. There is no requirement that a quorum be present for a meeting of members of a public board or commission to be subject to s. 286.011, F.S. Instead, the law is applicable to any gathering, whether formal or casual, of two or more members of the same board or commission to discuss some matter on which foreseeable action will be taken by the public board or commission.
To summarize: Hope and Gallagher being on the same boat isn't a Sunshine violation. The only way it's a Sunshine violation is if they actually discussed school board business "on which foreseeable action will be taken." Now, this boat was allegedly wired to the hilt and there were FBI agents all over it, so if Hope and Gallagher had such a discussion you might assume that the feds are aware of it.
Next question: If the Sunshine Law was violated, would that be a federal case? No. The feds don't enforce state laws, they enforce federal laws. Now, could a Sunshine violation be used as a lynchpin or facet of a federal honest services case? I guess that's possible, but it might be a stretch.
One other thing: The fact this soiree was on a boat raises the value of the experience considerably. I can't imagine that the yacht ride, the food, the drinks, et al, doesn't come out to more than $100, the gift limit after which public officials must disclose what they've been given. (Hope also brought her husband on the yacht, so I think we can safely assume the $100 limit has been surpassed). It's not known if Hope gift-disclosed the yacht trip, but I'm looking into it.