Boca mayor blasted over ties to de­vel­oper

Sun Sentinel Broward Edition - - LOCAL - By Aric Chokey Staff writer

Boca Ra­ton Mayor Su­san Haynie is un­der fire over fi­nan­cial ties be­tween her husband’s prop­erty man­age­ment com­pany and a prom­i­nent de­vel­oper.

Re­cent news re­ports and a state ethics com­mis­sion com­plaint filed by a Haynie po­lit­i­cal op­po­nent led to a pub­lic meet­ing Mon­day, where Boca Ra­ton of­fi­cials called for more trans­parency over any po­ten­tial con­flicts of in­ter­est.

The con­cerns stem from re­ported fi­nan­cial ties be­tween Haynie’s husband’s firm, Com­mu­nity Re­liance, and real es­tate de­vel­op­ers James and Marta Bat­masian, who own the com­pany In­vest­ments Lim­ited.

Haynie was one of Com­mu­nity Re­liance’s reg­is­tered agents un­til her name was dropped from the com­pany fil­ings last year, state records show. These days, her husband, Neil Haynie, re­mains on the com­pany’s reg­is­tra­tion.

Su­san Haynie, who is run­ning for a Palm Beach County com­mis­sion seat, de­fended her­self.

“We have fol­lowed this process to the let­ter of the law,” Haynie said Mon­day. “There’s noth­ing se­cre­tive about this.”

The Bat­masians are the largest com­mer­cial prop­erty own­ers in Boca Ra­ton and own the ma­jor­ity of the con­dos in a Deer­field Beach com­plex called Tivoli Park.

A 2013 re­port from the Palm Beach County Com­mis­sion on Ethics said Com­mu­nity Re­liance re­ceived $24,000 over the two years prior from the Tivoli Park condo as­so­ci­a­tion, which is headed by Bat­masians’ af­fil­i­ates.

The ethics opin­ion did not name Com­mu­nity Re­liance, the Bat­masians or Tivoli Park, but rather iden­ti­fied them by terms such as “in­vestor,” “the Prop­erty” and “a con­do­minium as­so­ci­a­tion.”

Ini­tially, the ethics com­mis­sion said the is­sue gave the “ap­pear­ance of im­pro­pri­ety.” But af­ter some backand-forth be­tween the city at­tor­ney and the com­mis­sion, the com­mis­sion ul­ti­mately ruled there was no con­flict of in­ter­est.

Since 2013, Haynie has ap­proved sev­eral ma­jor de­vel­op­ment projects pro­posed by In­vest­ments Lim­ited.

Boca Ra­ton’s at­tor­ney Diana Grub-Frieser re­quested the ethics opin­ion on the mayor’s be­half in Novem­ber 2011.

Nearly two years later, the ethics com­mis­sion ruled there was an “in­suf­fi­cient nexus” that linked the Bat­masians, Tivoli Park and the Haynies’ com­pany. The com­mis­sion’s opin­ion said the Tivoli condo as­so­ci­a­tion did not have a stake in projects in Boca Ra­ton, so no con­flict ex­isted.

Boca Coun­cil­man Robert Wein­roth said Grub-Frieser was “ag­gres­sive” in seek­ing the opin­ion for Haynie.

“You cast a shadow, a cloud over any­thing that was done by this body dur­ing this pe­riod of time,” Wein­roth told Grub-Frieser on Mon­day.

But Grub-Frieser said she was do­ing her job by giv­ing the mayor le­gal ad­vice.

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