St. Johns County Commission Approves Motion to Address Possible Violations by Commissioner Krista Joseph of Board Rules and a Florida Statue

On December 5, 2023, during the St. Johns Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) Regular Meeting, Commissioner Henry Dean commented that Commissioner Krista Joseph made a “campaign speech” during her commissioner report at the November 21, BOCC meeting. The BOCC voted 4 to 1 on a motion to censure Commissioner Krista Joseph for those statements for violating the Rules and Policies of the BOCC (“Board Rules”) that address Decorum and Civility. The motion also directed the County Attorney to hire outside counsel to determine if those statements violated Florida law, which could include Florida Statue 104.31 which addresses Political activities of state, county, and municipal officers and employees.

The motion was made by Commissioner Henry Dean and seconded by Commissioner Christian Whitehurst. Chair Sarah Arnold and Vice Chair Roy Alaimo voted to supported the motion along with Commissioners Dean and Whitehurst. Commissioner Krista Joseph voted to decline the motion.

On December 1, 2023, the County Attorney circulated to the Commissioners an Interoffice Memorandum on Decorum and Civility which was in response to the same comments. The memorandum references various BOCC rules and policies, the Little Hatch Act (Fla. Stat. 104.31), ethics and misuse of Public Position Chapter 112 of Florida Statutes, Fla. Stat. 106.15(3) & (4) which prohibits candidates from using the services of any government officer or employee during working hours in furtherance of his/her candidacy.  Additionally, the memorandum acknowledges that St. John’s County Administrative Code, Section 116.5.8 prohibits the use of the Government Access Channel (GTV) to endorse an issue, candidate, specific person, company or brand name product for consumer use.   

The Office of the County Attorney will be seeking an outside counsel to evaluate the comments and provide an outside opinion of the comments and will bring the outside opinion back to the BOCC.