New Report Underscores Need for Independent Voices on City Council
Curry and Co. Are Using Threats and Intimidation to Defend Disgraced Development Deal
In a bombshell report, the Jacksonville Times-Union today revealed that Lenny Curry’s Chief of Staff Brian Hughes allegedly threatened to retaliate against Republican City Councilman Matt Schellenberg for speaking out against a shady deal with developers. After Schellenberg expressed “disappointment” about the deal, the Mayor’s team cryptically threatened to block Schellenberg’s priorities for the rest of his term.
What did Schellenberg really do wrong in the eyes of Team Curry? Simply express regret that the administration had failed to uncover “$11 million in financial judgments” against the main investor behind a project backed by the administration. That’s right: in Lenny Curry’s Jacksonville, calling for clean government and the responsible use of taxpayer money gets you punished.
Even worse, Hughes is set to get a big promotion. In two months, Hughes will become the City of Jacksonville’s Chief Administrative Office — an even more powerful perch from which he’ll be able to double down on City Hall’s policy of abusing taxpayer money, silencing dissent — and defending crooked deals.
“Mayor Curry has created a culture of intimidation and corruption in City Hall that rewards corporate special interests — and silences everyone else,” said Duval County Democratic Chair Daniel Henry. “Today’s report makes clear we need to elect independent voices who aren’t afraid to stand up to the Mayor and his cronies and put the people of Jacksonville first. We need Councilmembers who will safeguard taxpayer money and fight for clean government — not be another rubber stamp for the Mayor.”
- A Jacksonville City Council member said Brian Hughes, Mayor Lenny Curry’s chief of staff and the interim leader of the Downtown Investment Authority, threatened retaliation against him after he criticized an incentive-rich deal to redevelop downtown’s vacant Berkman 2 property, which faces an uncertain future after a Mississippi development firm backed out of the deal last week.
- In a Times-Union story about $11 million in financial judgments against companies tied to the Stewart family, whose family trust is the main investor of the now-foiled Berkman project, Councilman Matt Schellenberg said he was “disappointed” that the DIA didn’t uncover the financial problems before asking the City Council to sign off on the development deal and called for an investigation into the company.
- Hours after the story published online on Friday, Hughes sent Schellenberg two text messages: a screenshot of Schellenberg’s quote in the story and a cryptic statement.
- “I hope Matt gets everything he needs prior to June 30,” Hughes wrote, in reference to Schellenberg’s last day in office later this year.
The Duval County Democratic Party is the official Democratic Executive Committee within Duval, responsible for handling Florida Democratic Party affairs within the county. Our mission is to ensure an effective government that supports projects and provides an opportunity for the citizens of North Florida by advancing candidates, public officials, and policies that promote Democratic values.