MITCHELL: ‘I will be vindicated’ on ethics complaint

A resident of St. Lucie County Commission District 2 has raised a question and lodged a complaint regarding newly elected Commissioner Sean Mitchell’s residence. The complaint has gone to newly sworn-in Gov. Ron DeSantis, seeking his removal of Mitchell.

“I haven’t been served,” Commissioner Mitchell told St. Lucie Voice last Friday, adding that he has hired an outside attorney. “I feel I will be vindicated. I thought the silly season was over in November, but I guess not.”

Port St. Lucie resident Robert Polakow, who lives in District 2, claims Mitchell has not, in fact, moved in with his 27-year-old daughter and her husband, as Mitchell’s current address would imply.

Instead, Polakow alleges that Mitchell still lives in his Lake Charles home in St. Lucie West with his wife, two young children, and his elderly mother.

Under the county’s election rules, candidates for County Commission need not reside in the district which they wish to represent. However, they must be a resident at the time of election.

Polakow claims that was not the case for Mitchell and District 2, and continues not to be so.

Polakow’s attorney, Ana Gomez-Mallada of Fort Lauderdale, read Polakow’s complaint during the public comment portion of the St. Lucie County Commission Board meeting held Jan. 8.

Neither Mitchell nor his fellow commissioners addressed the attorney’s comments at that time.

The complaint, according to Gomez-Mallada, was sent to the Florida Commission on Ethics. Attempts to verify the submittal of the complaint were unsuccessful. The Commission on Ethics excludes complaints from the public record until such time as the commission has ruled.

Staff reached by the St. Lucie Voice said they could neither confirm nor deny that the complaint had been filed due to the restriction placed on such records.

Mitchell’s address prior to filing for the District 2 Commission seat is in St. Lucie West, where his wife and family live. Upon filing for the election, he changed his address to a rental property on SW Kentwood Road, occupied by his daughter and her spouse.

Polakow alleges in his complaint that Mitchell applied for the homestead exemption on his St. Lucie West home at the same time the address on his voter registration showed a different location.

“The evidence clearly suggests that Commissioner Mitchell either lied in applying for homestead exemption or lied on his voter registration,” Polakow wrote in his complaint, sent to St. Lucie Voice. “Nevertheless, it seems a crime has been committed.”

Mitchell, a Democrat, beat Anthony Bonna by a 2.3 percent margin. Bonna, a Republican, had been appointed by then-Gov. Rick Scott to fill the remainder of Commissioner Tod Mowery’s term after Mowery resigned his post.

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