Boca mayor blasted over ties to developer
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.