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Grand Jury Investigates Hayward, City Contracts Yr Ender

Dave Dunwoody, WUWF Public Media

In 2014, a federal investigation began in August involving road contracts with the City of Pensacola dating back to 2011, along with related expenses paid on behalf of Mayor Ashton Hayward and others. A federal grand jury was seated in Tallahassee.

One subpoena released by the Mayor’s Office requested numerous records connected to the "Main Street Rehabilitation Project” between the city and Jerry Pate Design. Those included bids, bid sheets, selection of contractor documents, all emails referring to the bids and copies of all payments to the contractor.

Mayor Ashton Hayward – in a written release on Wednesday and media interviews on Thursday – pledged full cooperation in the case.

The subpoenaed documents also included copies of bids in 2011 and early 2012 by Pam Childers –Escambia County’s Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller – who at that time worked in the City Finance Department.

Assistant State Attorney Greg Marcille led an investigation of city government in 2013 on two fronts. The first dealt with the mishandling of city records. The second involved a complaint submitted by former City Councilwoman Maren DeWeese – who was briefly a candidate for mayor. Those findings did not appear to be related to these federal investigation.

Five city staff members were subpoenaed to appear before the grand jury in Tallahassee. Mayor Ashton Hayward was not among them. According to figures from the Escambia County Supervisor of Elections, pro golfer Jerry Pate and his wife Soozie each contributed one thousand dollars to Hayward’s re-election campaign.

Other figures from the Supervisor of Elections placed the Mayor’s campaign war chest at more than 135 thousand dollars. The investigation surfaced ten weeks before the general election, where Hayward’s re-election bid was challenged by Donna Clark.

Greg Marcille at the State Attorney’s Office -- which is not involved in the federal case -- said there are major differences between subpoenas issued at the state and federal levels.

As of late 2014, the grand jury had gone silent, and Ashton Hayward won a second term with 65% of the vote. Speaking to WUWF in early December, Hayward also had nothing new to add.