Matt Shirk takes hits from state Ethics Commission

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The Florida Commission on Ethics this month determined “probable cause” in three incidents related to 4th Circuit Public Defender Matt Shirk, whose hiring of three women from a now-defunct bar called “Whiskey River,” and subsequent entertaining of the women in his office, were matters of media interest a couple of years back.

Two other incidents, meanwhile, didn’t meet the probable cause threshold.

The Ethics Commission found probable cause to believe he “misused his position to hire or direct the hiring of three women, contrary to procedures, policies, qualifications, or normal hiring practices, to engage in workplace or work-related interactions with them that were of personal interest to him and unrelated or marginally related to the function of his office, and to terminate them from their employment for the benefit of himself, his wife, and their marriage.”

Probable cause was also found regarding the charge that Shirk “misused his office by serving or consuming alcoholic beverages in a City building, contrary to a City Code provision.”

Probable cause also “was found to believe that he disclosed or used information not available to the general public for his benefit or the benefit of others when he revealed information relating to the representation of a client, obtained in his public capacity, in an interview he gave to a documentary crew interested in his client’s case.”

Ironically, allegations that he misused his position or public resources to build a shower in his office were dismissed with a finding of no probable cause.

Likewise, “no probable cause was found on an allegation that he misused his position to provide key card access to persons, including his wife and son, and that he had the cards and access information canceled, modified, or deleted from the system.”

Shirk offered a statement.

“Last week I traveled to Tallahassee to meet with the Florida Ethics Commission on matters that happened about three years ago.  I waived my right to have an attorney and simply told the ethics commission that I was sorry for the mistakes I have made and merely put myself at their mercy.  I apologized to them as I have apologized to the grand jury, the employees of the Public Defenders Office, the citizens of Nassau, Duval, and Clay Counties, and most importantly my wife and family.  I don’t claim to be a perfect man, and I thank God that through his grace and love I am a better man today than I was then.  But I pledge to everyone that I have learned from my mistakes. I ask again for your forgiveness and pledge to being a faithful public servant, the best Public Defender I can be, and a man of honor and integrity.”

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski



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