JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Duval County Democratic Party condemns the bypassing of municipal ethics codes by Chief Administration Officer Brian Hughes to allow former CAO Sam Mousa to consult the Jacksonville Jaguars on development projects related to Lot J. This action continues a pattern of corruption in which only a small, select group of well-connected individuals within the administration are hand-picked from the top to oversee major city initiatives.
Revolving-door ethics rules exist to rid politics of money, fraud, and corruption, and pave a pathway to transparent processes. In recent months, this administration has shown a disregard for transparency while signaling that “pay-to-play” tactics are the most effective manner to conduct city business.
Since Mousa’s exit from the administration less than 60 days ago, he has already exerted himself into the ongoing debate over a school tax referendum and now a development project that will heavily impact the city’s downtown. In each scenario, Mousa—who has close political and personal ties to the mayor and Hughes—has professed himself to be the most capable individual for the task at hand.
The Lot J project seeks over $233 million in city incentives. Duval County residents deserve all city affairs be handled in the sunshine, especially those with such a staggering price tag. This move by the same group of problematic players we see time and again bend the rules for their gain raises concerns that residents will not get an independent assessment of the project and signals that decisions will be made outside of the public purview. This is exemplified by Hughes’ decision to bypass the ethics rules and approve Mousa for this lucrative consultant position in one of his first actions as the city’s Chief Administrative Officer.
“The Curry administration, including Brian Hughes and Sam Mousa, has once again been exposed as less interested in democratic processes and safeguards, and more concerned with lining their pockets,” said Duval Dems Vice Chair Angie Nixon. “They have capitalized on loopholes within the City Charter and used their political influence to strong-arm the residents, institutions and other elected officials of Duval County over and over again. In a political game of who-knows-who amongst political allies, the city of Jacksonville will always find itself on the losing side.”
We call on Mousa to follow the spirit and the letter of Jacksonville’s Ethics Code and recuse himself from matters concerning the Lot J development. Furthermore, we call on Mayor Lenny Curry’s administration to adhere to our city’s ethics codes and govern in a manner that is in the best interest of all of Duval County residents, not just in the best interest of political allies.
The Duval County Democratic Party is the official organization collectively representing Democrats in Duval County. The leadership is focused on ensuring effective government work that supports worthwhile projects and provides opportunity. The party works to advance candidates, public officials, and policies that promote core Democratic values.