According to a Florida Commission on Ethics ruling issued last week, there is probable cause to believe Mayor David Stewart agreed to install speed-bumps on a resident’s street in Lantana, Florida if she would agree to have sex with him.
David Stewart “should be ashamed”
In January Lantana resident Catherine Padilla filed a complaint containing a startling accusation. While campaigning to have speed bumps added to her street in 2015, she became friendly with Mayor Stewart. One day after the two had lunch together he drove her to a hotel parking lot and asked her to “occupy” a room with him. She said “no” and refused to get out of the car.
In the run up to a town council meeting which would decided whether or not to approve the speed bumps Padilla wanted, she claimed Stewart called her up and told her that by sleeping with her she could guarantee they would be approved.
Again, Padilla said no. The speed bumps were approved anyway, but Padilla says Stewart continued to call her, telling her he would have the speed bumps removed if she did not sleep with him.
Padilla lost her husband in January 2015, and said this was the reason she took three years to come forward. “I’m finally strong enough. My feet are on the ground now,” she said. “I’m finally feeling strong enough to come forward with this.”
Speaking shortly after the Commission on Ethics finding was released last week, Padilla said, “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.
“If there’s anybody else that has had this happen to them out there, please come forward now because it’s not too late.”
David Stewart: “someone is trying to encourage her”
Mayor Stewart denied all allegations against him during the Commission hearing. He has also speculated that Padilla is not acting on her own accord.
“I think someone is trying to encourage her to do it. I don’t think that this was her idea,” he claimed during the hearing.
The Commission finding does not equate to legal determination of guilt, but it does mean one could come in future. Stewart can opt to try settling the case, or taking it to an administrative law judge.
First elected mayor in 2000, Padilla has called on Stewart to resign as mayor of the Palm Beach County town. If an administrative law judge does hear the case and Stewart risks being found guilty. This could eventually lead to Stewart being removed from his post by the governor.
A second complaint made by Padilla against Scott, this time for inappropriate sexual innuendo, was dismissed for lack of evidence.