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Full-time job a potential conflict of interest

By Staff | Aug 12, 2022

To the editor:

“Don’t short-change your customers” is a fundamental rule of business, because happy customers come back for more and tell their friends as well. Yet in accepting a full-time position as the CEO/President of the Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce, Commissioner Brian Hamman has chosen to short-change Lee County residents.

A full-time job as chief advocate for the Chamber leaves Hamman less time to dedicate to local issues while collecting the same pay, and raises an important question: Will the needs of Lee County voters be top of mind at County Commission meetings? Or the demands of a new job and the Fort Myers businesses that now employ him as their top lobbyist?

This action raises many questions, indeed.

If employment negotiations were underway and had been affirmatively disclosed in the Spring prior to the close of the election qualifying period, would candidates have filed to run against Hamman in the belief that voters would see his new job as a conflict of interest that it is? Withholding this information may have very well impacted not only this election season, but Lee County’s future.

One potential candidate who spoke with Women For a Better Lee said, “Defeating an incumbent with a big war chest is one thing. But an incumbent who’s already taken the next job is another thing entirely since it signals reduced commitment to his Commission job.” Isn’t this an issue on which citizens should vote?

Furthermore, since the Chamber exists only because it has members, will the Commissioner recuse himself not only from matters involving the organization, but also its business members? And what happens when members (to whom Hamman is now beholden for a salary) lobby him on a county issue at a Happy Hour? Does he step back? Does he offer advice, especially if the business member is influential in him keeping his Chamber job? Think about it.

This year, write-in BOCC candidate Jim Sheets is offering voters a choice at the ballot box and urging us all to write in his name in the November General Election to protest Hamman’s action. Jim is a principled man of integrity and honor and would be a commissioner first and foremost — and surely not short-change the residents of Lee County.

Charlotte Newton

Women For a Better Lee

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