The Florida Commission on Ethics concluded on Thursday that there is probable cause that Mayor David Stewart of Lantana, Florida asked a constituent for sex in exchange for guaranteed installation of a speed bump on a public road.
Lantana resident Catherine Padilla leveled the accusation at Mayor Stewart in February of this year, as reported by WJNO News Radio. Padilla stated that the incident occurred in 2015 when she was gathering signatures to petition for installation of a speed bump in her neighborhood. Mayor Stewart allegedly invited Padilla to lunch and then drove her to a motel. Mayor Stewart then allegedly invited her into a room to engage in sexual acts, in return offering his word that the speed bump would be installed. Padilla turned him down, and Mayor Stewart reportedly has called her up multiple times since to repeat his request.
The Palm Beach Post reports that Padilla also accused Mayor Stewart of making sexual innuendos to Town Manager Debbie Manzo at a luncheon on October 24, 2017. Manzo bemoaned her entree selection, to which Mayor Stewart allegedly responded: "Well, you haven't tried my meat yet."
Both allegations were acknowledged by the Florida Commission on Ethics, which declined in June to investigate the alleged luncheon incident but found credence to Padilla's accusation that Mayor Stewart solicited her for sex.
The Commission found probable cause to believe that Lantana Mayor DAVID STEWART misused his position to attempt to obtain a sexual benefit for himself. Probable cause also was found to believe he solicited sex from a constituent based on an understanding of his vote, official action, or judgment would be influenced.
According to NBC News, the speed bumps were eventually installed but Padilla claims Mayor Stewart went as far as threatening to remove them if she didn't accept his requests.
"I think someone is trying to encourage her to do it," Mayor Stewart told The Palm Beach Post while denying all allegations. "I don't think that this was her idea."
"The mayor should be ashamed for what he did," countered Padilla. "I think it's time he steps down. He needs to be [held] 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," Padilla concluded.
Mayor Stewart can elect to settle out of court or face a hearing in front of an administrative law judge, according to subsequent reports, which says potential consequences range from a reprimand to removal from office.