Those who have been at the receiving end of her haughty wrath, her accusations, her distortions, her denigrations, her contempt for law and reckless disregard for the truth–like her perennial target County Attorney Al Hadeed and several former county commissioners–might be wondering where this Kimberle Weeks had been hiding all these years: the Kimberle Weeks who late Sunday submitted a letter to county and state officials fawning with regret, qualified apologies, a bit of contrition and other forms of mea culpa that until Sunday had seemed to her as foreign as courtesy. “If I could turn back time I sincerely would,” Weeks wrote.
Lacking from the letter was an actual apology about her own actions or concessions that she had been wrong to file the legal actions that defamed people like Hadeed and former Commissioner Charlie Ericksen, hijacked untold hours of work and attention from county officials and caused immense anxiety for those she’d targeted. One characteristic her letter did not lack: it is still all about Weeks–what “an emotional torment to me going through this ordeal” it has been, how financially ruinous it has been to her, how yet another court judgment against her “can destroy one’s credit and ability to borrow in cases of emergency as we grow older and are approaching retirement age.”
Yet Weeks, who remains on felony probation on a separate case, still does not see the complaints she filed with the Florida Ethics Commission as anything less than “honorable.” “In filing the complaints,” she wrote, “I meant no harm or malice towards Mr. Hadeed or Mr. Ericksen when filing the complaints, I simply was trying to do an honorable job as a public elected official, and I am sorry for any stress and emotional effects you have endured from these filings.”
As County Commission Chairman Donald O’Brien put it this morning, “this letter is really an insult to my intelligence to Mr. Erickson’s intelligence and a lot of other people’s.”
“I would I feel a little softer about it if she apologized, but she didn’t,” Commissioner Greg Hansen said.
But Weeks, the former supervisor of elections, appears to be past the end of her rope, financially, and facing the “devastating” judgment (in her word) of owing the county $129,600 plus 6.83 percent interest, which may total in attorneys’ fees because of her frivolous and false accusations, and an April 8 court date where she could face the possibility of more severe penalties if she continued to leave the bill unpaid–she served a month’s jail time last summer on a separate set of felony convictions for her criminal contempt of the law)–she chose this 11th hour to come pleading.
Unable to pay anywhere close to the money she owes, she is begging the county and the state to agree to her settlement offer: $20,000, which she said she would borrow immediately after the settlement may be agreed to. She also asked for a 10-day extension of the April 8 hearing in Leon County Circuit Court, where the Attorney General’s case against her for the money owed has been unfolding. Weeks prepared the letter after speaking with Hadeed by phone Saturday–itself an extraordinary move on Weeks’s part, considering to what extent she’d vilified him publicly and privately over the years.
County commissioners weren’t impressed this morning.
“I have a problem with this,” Hansen said, “because regardless what she says here, those three individuals were very vindictive. They were very hurtful to this community. And they did it on purpose and they did it with malice and forethought and they hurt this they hurt our county, significantly.” Weeks had operated in concert with Dennis McDonald, the perennial candidate for local office and critic of city and county government, and Mark Richter Jr., the son of a former candidate for the commission. McDonald and Richter both face similar judgments through Attorney General suits, for similarly large sums of money owed the county. The difference is that Leon County Circuit Court has already entered judgments against McDonald and Richter. It has not yet done so against Weeks. But reaching a settlement with Weeks could set a precedent that the other two could then seek for themselves.
In Weeks’s case, the Attorney general would have to agree to the settlement. But Hadeed said the AG’s office “would seriously consider whatever decision” the commission reached.
“It’s not so much the money here, that I see this as a problem. We’re kind of giving her get out of jail, figuratively and court with this,” Commissioner Dave Sullivan said. “And she had numerous times over the last five years to try and have backed out of this and and gotten a much easier way out. She fought this all along with lawyers and every possible way she could. Just because she says they don’t have any money, did we check that? I mean, do we do we know for sure?” Sullivan considers Weeks’s plea of poverty dubious, along with her mea culpas. “So, it would be very hard for me to do anything. I don’t see her admitting guilt here, either. And what she said,” he continued, “it basically says I’m sorry this happened. Basically she’s literally saying, and I’d like it to end now. And I understand her position now, but she’s had years to have taken this this stand, if she had felt sorry about what happened. So, right now, I know it’s hard, but I don’t see any way based on the history I have with this which is pretty close history since this started. I don’t see any way I can go along with this.”
O’Brien agreed with Sullivan’s interpretation of the letter, recalling Weeks’s “malice” and “forethought” over the years, resulting in an offer that “in no way, in my opinion, can compensate the county for the time of the legal staff.”
“Having said that,” O’Brien said, “you know I fall back also on my Christian teaching of mercy and I’m totally conflicted about what to do on this and, you know, aggravated about it and don’t know what else to say.” He was inclined to “sleep on it for a while.”
Not yet near consensus, it was left up to Commissioner Andy Dance to craft an approach. “Part of me would like to see this put to rest and and put behind us,” he said. But he wasn’t thrilled by Weeks’s 11th-hour tactic, which left her driving the agenda. “This is their first offer, so I’m of the opinion that we take it back to them, due to the significant amount of difference between the numbers you’ve put together.” He would have liked to see a spreadsheet breakdown of the county’s costs–and a second offer.
That clarified it for O’Brien, who saw “no consensus” to agree. The vote to reject the offer was unanimous. They’ll wait for a second offer and more clarity on the numbers.
“These cases are intended to recover in the name of the county. The amount of funds and effort that it expended based upon a state statutory provision for the assessment of fees and costs for having filed ethics complaints that were dismissed on the merits, in other words, there was a ruling against the veracity of the allegations,” Hadeed told county commissioners. “And that were determined by the court by the Ethics Commission and the reviewing administrative law judge that were filed without reasonable basis, and that were filed for the purpose of maliciously maligning the individuals named,” himself included.
If the commission was inclined to accept the settlement, Hadeed said, “we should only do so on the basis that a release is executed by Miss Weeks that waives any and all past present future possible claims. So in other words it truly does end this chapter if you will, and it includes an anti-disparagement clause, again, bringing to finality this chapter.”
In late July Weeks was sentenced for the second time on the state’s felony case against her, stemming from her illegal recordings of state and local officials. She had been sentenced to seven felony counts in 2018. An appeal reduced the counts to five, and she was re-sentenced accordingly. She had to serve a month in jail (having served one day in jail previously, which she was credited), followed by 18 months’ probation, which she is still serving. According to her state prison record, her scheduled probation termination date is January 27, 2022, though she may be eligible for early termination.
The conviction and felony status meant that Weeks lost her state pension after working for the county for many years–at the Sheriff’s Office, for the Clerk of Court, and serving as the Supervisor of Elections, winning reelection once but resigning in January 2015, halfway through her second term and as the noose of what would become the criminal case against her was tightening.
In November, Weeks attempted to “mitigate” her sentence, arguing in a motion, through her attorney, that the charges against her should have been second-degree misdemeanors, because she didn’t have a criminal record before.
Circuit Judge Margaret Hudson denied the motion.