TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The sexual harassment investigation into Tampa city council chairman Orlando Gudes has already cost the city nearly $100,000, and could be more if the alleged victim decides to bring a lawsuit.
The Trenam law firm was hired by the city to conduct a “factual investigation” since the allegations “involved [the alleged victim’s] supervisor, an elected official who is not subject to the City’s personnel policies.
Trenam charged the city a “discounted government rate of $350/hour,” leading to a February invoice for $98,897.50 for professional services rendered to investigate the allegations from Sept. 14, 2021, to January 28, 2022.
The aide, whom 8 On Your Side is not naming and whose name has been redacted from public records regarding the investigation, has now hired Grady Irvin, Jr. as her own independent counsel.
In a statement Tuesday night, Irvin and the aide encouraged Gudes “to reconsider his current stance not to resign—if he were to resign it would likely save the City and taxpayers protracted litigation costs, and it would allow the victims of any unacceptable and reprehensible conduct on the part of this elected official an immediate avenue to begin the healing process.”
In supporting documents to the initial report, Gudes and his attorney, Ryan Barack, refute some of the accusations made by the former aide.
While Mayor Jane Castor has no ability to remove Gudes from office, she said in a statement that she would do so if she could.
The Florida Constitution does give the governor power to remove municipal officials from office for “malfeasance, misfeasance, neglect of duty, habitual drunkenness, incompetence, or permanent inability to perform official duties.”
Christina Pushaw, press secretary for Gov. Ron DeSantis, said they are aware of the allegations.
“The decision to suspend or remove an elected official from office is not one the governor takes lightly, and would only happen after careful consideration of all the facts,” Pushaw said. “We are reviewing the situation. We do not have a decision at this time.”
Irvin will hold a press conference about the allegations made by Gudes’ former aide on Thursday at 3:00 p.m. at the law offices of Whidden Brown P.L.