State Attorney: Fairpoint Regional Utility System not subject to Sunshine Law

Posted on December 1, 2017 by Staff reports

The Office of the State Attorney announced this afternoon that it has completed its review of a complaint alleging a violation of Florida Government in the Sunshine Law by members of the Board of Directors of Fairpoint Regional Utility System, Inc. It has been determined that Fairpoint is not subject to the Sunshine Law, and therefore no violation has been committed.

In a letter to Edwin “Buz” Eddy, president of FRUS, Chief Assistant State Attorney Greg Marcille stated the decision was “limited in nature” and applicable only to the facts of the specific complaint.

According to the letter, FRUS, a Florida not-for-profit corporation comprised of Midway Water System, Holley-Navarre Water System and the City of Gulf Breeze, is a wholesale provider of water which provides water to the three utilities and does not provide service to residential or business customers.

“It has been alleged that Matt Dannheisser, Bien May and Buz Eddy, members of the board of directors of FRUS, met to discuss a multimillion dollar bank refinancing program for FRUS in violation of Florida’s Government in the Sunshine Law,” stated Marcille.

Marcille said that in order for a Sunshine violation to have occurred the State Attorney’s Office first had to determine whether o not FRUS is subject to the law. “Under certain circumstance a private entity may be subject to the Sunshine Law. Critical to that finding is whether there has been a delegation of a public agency’s governmental function. Fairpoint is a wholesale provider of water that does not provide any direct services to individuals or businesses. At no point has there been delegation of a governmental function to Fairpoint,” he said.

Per Marcille the State Attorney’s Office next had to determine if the fact that the City of Gulf Breeze is a public agency and a member of FRUS makes the utility subject to Sunshine Law. “The Attorney General in Opinion 98-47 concluded that a private nonprofit corporation, whose members included both public and private entities, was not subject to the Sunshine Law,” he said.

“Based upon our review of the facts of this case we have determined that FRUS, Inc. is not subject to the requirements of Florida’s Government in the Sunshine Law, and therefore no violation has been committed.