A Florida town mayor may have violated state statutes after allegedly asking a resident for sex in exchange for speed bumps in her neighborhood, with an ethics commission finding probable cause.
Lantana Mayor David Stewart was accused of making the offer in January by a local resident, Catherine Padilla, who claimed the alleged proposition occurred in 2015.
She said the mayor told her he’d “make sure” her area would get speed bumps – an issue she’s been campaigning for – but only if she had sex with him.
She refused the offer, prompting the mayor to call the woman just before the Town Council’s vote on the speed bumps issue, allegedly saying she can still take the offer to ensure her neighborhood gets the desired speed bumps. Padilla again refused the offer.
The speed bumps were approved by the council, according to the woman, but Stewart soon wanted to remove them because she didn’t have sex with him.
“The mayor should be ashamed for what he did. I think it’s time he steps down. He needs to be accountable for his actions and he needs to do the right thing and step down.”
The Florida Commission on Ethics came out last week with a statement saying it found probable cause that the mayor tried to use his position and power to benefit himself or solicit something of value from a constituent, the Palm Beach Post reported.
The mayor now has the option to either settle the case or face a hearing before an administrative law judge. If he decides to go to a hearing and is found guilty, he will face penalties such as a suspension or even removal from office.
The woman accusing the mayor told the Post that she wants him to resign from office.
“The mayor should be ashamed for what he did,” Padilla told the newspaper. “I think it’s time he steps down. He needs to be accountable for his actions and he needs to do the right thing and step down.”
“If there’s anybody else that has had this happen to them out there, please come forward now because it’s not too late,” she added.
“I think someone is trying to encourage her to do it. I don’t think that this was her idea.”
Padilla previously said that she waited about three years to come forward with her story because “now” was the time she was “finally feeling strong enough” to come forward with the allegations.
The mayor denied the allegations and reportedly told a commission investigator that he believed Padilla was being encouraged to tell her story by someone else. “I think someone is trying to encourage her to do it. I don’t think that this was her idea,” he said, according to documents.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.