Apopka Mayor responds on social media

An ethics complaint was filed against Apopka Mayor Joe Kilsheimer with the Florida Commission on Ethics (FCE) apparently in regards to his involvement with the Certified Second Chance (CSC).

In February of 2017,  Kilsheimer and three partners formed CSC as a for-profit social purpose corporation. One of the partners is Allan Chernoff, who is the chief operating officer of the City of Life Foundation, a non-profit organization in Orlando which is being funded by the City of Apopka to manage a program to improve Apopka-area schools.

Mayor Joe Kilsheimer

CSC is designed to give felons re-entering society a chance to prove themselves through third-party verification of obligations they meet to gain employment. CSC is seeking $500,000 from the State of Florida to begin the company through a request introduced by State Senator Randolph Bracy of Orlando.

The ethics complaint could hinge on Kilsheimer’s relationship with Chernoff. The City of Life Foundation, which Chernoff is COO, has received a total of $55,000 from the City of Apopka to manage the “Apopka Begins and Ends with A” program for the past two years.

The question being raised focuses on the fact that Kilsheimer, who has obtained $55,000 in taxpayer funding for Chernoff’s organization, would be a business partner with Chernoff if CSC were to receive funding from the State and become a working business.

The Apopka Voice asked Kilsheimer if he believed it was a conflict to go into business with Chernoff, but Kilsheimer looked beyond that potential conflict-of-interest to point to the greater good CSC would do.

“This is a project beyond my role as mayor of the city of Apopka,” Kilsheimer said. “This is a project I’ve been working on since before I was elected mayor, even before I was elected as a city commissioner. We were focused on the benefit we were trying to provide, and the good we were going to do.”

As for the complaint received by the FCE, Kilsheimer responded on his “Re-elect Apopka Mayor Joe Kilsheimer” Facebook page.

“Friends, the next election for Apopka mayor is still more than 11 months away, but it’s clear some people want the campaign to begin now. More than three weeks ago, I was warned that my political opponents were “shopping” for someone to file an ethics complaint against me with the Florida Ethics Commission. I was informed that two people had turned them down. Well, the third time must have been the charm. I was officially notified Friday that an Apopka resident has filed an ethics complaint against me. I spoke to a lawyer in Tallahassee Friday — an expert in these issues — who assured me that the filing of ethics charges is a well-known campaign tactic in Florida. (And it recently happened in another local race here). The complaint relates to the work I have undertaken — even before I entered public office — to find a better way for former felons to re-enter society. This is a major social and economic challenge facing our state, and our nation. I firmly believe that the complaint is without merit and that the Ethics Commission will find in my favor. Nonetheless, it is an ordeal that Cheryl and I must endure, and part of the price one must pay to serve in public office. I post this here today so that my friends and supporters will hear it from me first, rather than from another source.”

Once a complaint is filed with the FCE, it goes through the following stages:

a. Determination of whether the allegations of the complaint are legally sufficient, that is, whether they indicate a possible violation of any law over which the Commission has jurisdiction.

b. If the complaint is found to be legally sufficient, the Commission’s investigative staff will begin an investigation.

c. The investigative report is forwarded to the Commission Advocate.

d. The Advocate’s recommendation will be heard by the Commission acting in a quasi-judicial capacity.

e. If the Commission finds that there is no probable cause to believe that there has been a violation of the ethics laws, the complaint will be dismissed and will become public when that order is rendered.

f. If the Commission finds that there is probable cause to believe there has been a violation of the ethics laws, the complaint becomes public.

g. The ALJ’s findings, or the stipulated agreement, is then forwarded to the Commission for final action.


  1. So if Joe was so passionate about this cause why is the public JUST now hearing about it? Why are they just now forming a partnership. I don’t care who is shopping around to file ethics charges but it is clear that Joe just gave them reason to file those charges. Not only is Joe currently involved with City of Light, his history with this organization goes way back based on State filings by the City of Light. Joe has given his opposition all the fuel they needed to file these ethics complaints. Do NOT start blaming the opposition.

  2. Who filed the ethic complaint? Is Frank “Cup N Cracker”, the former City of Apopka attorney who was going to be fired by Mayor K, but instead resigned his position, still one who sits on the ethic commission board and collectively with the other board members, determine whether the ethic complaints before them are punishable or not? What are the punishments of such a complaint, if found to be valid? They NEVER find any ethic complaints against Trump to be valid…..!!! Why is that???

  3. There are no secrets. I’m not sure why the voice didn’t post the full story with all the details. The person who filed the complaint is Missy Fowler Touchet.

  4. It’s an issue. Point blank. I wish the mayor would see that and wait until he is not a mayor to seek federal funds and be partners with someone who is getting 55,000 to lead discussions about education in Apopka. Do better.

  5. A couple of weeks ago Mayor Joe spoke out on his new business venture. While justifying this outside business pursuit, he had the city attorney examine the pursuit, and the city attorney wrote that he did not see a conflict. One of the interesting reasons he cited for this interpretation was “This also seems consistent with the manner in which this provision was interpreted by former Mayor (John) Land upon his well known outside business pursuits”. REALLY?? To date, the only Well-Known Outside Business Pursuit that has been discovered was when Mayor was a part time job and received part time pay and former Mayor (John) Land started a business selling orange crates. Would be of interest to hear about these Well-Known Outside Business Pursuits that City Attorney Cliff Shepard is referring to.

  6. Is it possible that the lady who filed the ethic complaint against Mayor K, might be thinking of running for the city council??? Just speculating and guessing, not stating facts……thanks Cheryl for answering my question as to who filed the ethics complaint, as I was really wondering who it was.

  7. If Mayor Joe was told that his opposition was “shopping” for someone to file an ethics complaint against him and that two people had turned them down, I wonder who the two people are that “turned them down”? Mrs Kilsheimer let us know who it is that filed the complaint. Would be nice to know who the two are that “turned them down”. Could it be Annie Cunningham and Suzanne Kidd?

  8. Mike, I could definitely be wrong, but the two people whose names you mention above…..I doubt it. Doesn’t matter anyway…….

    • As Mrs Kilsheimer knows who filed the complaint and Mayor Joe stated that two people had declined filing an ethics complaint, I’m sure Mayor Joe’s informants know the names of these two, so it does really matter who the names of these two are, as maybe they will say why they turned down filing a complaint. We could speculate all day, but the Kilscheimers most likely could immediately clear that up.

  9. Let me clear it up for you. A person who files a ethic complaint against an elected official can be sued if the ethic board does not find that the complaint is a valid violation of the ethic laws.

    • That’s exactly why it would be interesting to know the persons that turned down filing the ethics complaint to know their reasoning?

    • No – It’s NOT self-explanatory. If the Kilsheimers can put out there that two people turned down the chance to file a complaint, back it up with some names. Mrs Kilsheimer said “There are no secrets”. If the names aren’t revealed, that’s a secret. Just like the “Well known outside business pursuits of the late Mayor Land” – just another secret that Cliff Shepard doesn’t want to tell us about.


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