Flying High

Before heading off to Washington for confirmation as Secretary of the Air Force, State Sen. Daryl Jones got involved in one last bond deal. The money was very good, but the backwash could be very bad.

*The biographical profile Jones makes available to the public on his legislative Website states that he is an attorney by profession, of counsel to the Miami law firm Adorno & Zeder. It does not mention investment banking or Douglas James Securities.

*A brochure produced by Douglas James Securities and updated within the past few months lists the firm's professional staff. Nowhere in the sixteen-page document is Daryl Jones mentioned -- even though Jones said earlier this week he is still considered an employee of the firm.

*On July 14, 1997, the county's financial adviser, Aimee Hamilton, wrote to Craig James and asked him to provide the county a "list of all municipal underwriters and institutional salespeople currently employed by your firm." Jones's name was not included in James's response.

*During his interview with New Times last week, James stated that Douglas James Securities employs four people, including himself. James then named the other three. Jones was not one of them.

The issue is further clouded by records maintained by the National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD), which along with the SEC enforces the industry's rules and regulations. A NASD spokesman says their records list Daryl Jones as a Douglas James employee, beginning in April 1994 and continuing to the present. The agency has no record of his resigning from the firm in 1996, even though Jones submitted his resignation letter in August of that year. (This situation gives rise to yet another problem. After Jones resigned from Douglas James in 1996, he donated $500 to the county mayoral campaign of Art Teele. Under Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board directives, if Jones were still a member of the firm, he would not have been permitted to donate or raise money for that campaign.)

Rulemaking Board executive director Christopher Taylor says it would be inappropriate for him to comment on the issues relating to Jones because he has not reviewed the matter. In all likelihood, he ventures, a factual determination would have to be made by the NASD and the SEC regarding Jones's employment status.

Daryl Jones first joined Douglas James Securities in April 1994 and held the title of senior vice president. According to his letter of resignation, he left the firm August 5, 1996. Jones says he departed because he needed to dedicate more time to raising money for the state Democratic Party in its bid to regain control of the Florida Senate. The Democrats failed in that attempt; had they prevailed, Jones would have become president of the Senate.

Craig James claims that Jones rejoined the firm as an employee on July 10, 1997, the day the Manager's Finance Committee convened to discuss the aviation bond issue. The sign-in sheet for that meeting, however, shows that Jones stated he was there representing his law firm, Adorno & Zeder, not Douglas James Securities.

Jones and James explain the apparent discrepancy by noting that while they had reached a verbal agreement to work together, Jones's pay was still being negotiated at the time of the committee meeting. In fact, the terms of Jones's compensation were not put in writing until two weeks after the bonds had been sold.

In an October 14, 1997, letter to Jones, Craig James wrote, "Based upon projected sales commission allocated to you for the $200 million Dade County Aviation Bond issue ..., Douglas James Securities will pay you a maximum of $100,000." Jones ended up with $90,000.

While he was present October 1 at the Douglas James Securities office as the bonds were being sold, he was not involved in their actual sale. Still, "the book," a computer printout detailing all orders placed for bonds, shows Daryl Jones's name next to a single order, which resulted in the sale of three million dollars' worth of bonds. But James explains that the senator had nothing to do with the transaction and that he merely typed in Jones's name alongside the order because the space next to it on his computer screen was blank, and he says he needed to fill it with someone's name.

As President Clinton's choice for Secretary of the Air Force, Daryl Jones will be expected to restore a sense of pride and integrity to a branch of the armed services that in recent years has been plagued by scandal and tragedy. In 1996 the terrorist bombing of an air force barracks in Saudi Arabia left nineteen servicemen dead. Also that year an air force passenger jet crashed in Bosnia, taking the lives of Commerce Secretary Ron Brown and more than two dozen others. Investigators determined that both incidents could have been avoided.

Last year was no better. First there was the humiliating spectacle of Lt. Kelly Flinn, the air force's first female B-52 pilot, being drummed out of the service with a dishonorable discharge for having an affair and then lying about it. Next came Gen. Joseph Ralston, the air force's highest-ranking officer, whose ascension to chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was derailed by his own extramarital affair.

In April, Capt. Craig Button committed suicide by intentionally crashing his bomb-laden A-10 jet into a Colorado mountainside. This was followed last fall by a series of fatal plane crashes and midair collisions that necessitated an embarrassing order for all air force pilots to "stand down" for 24 hours to brush up on safety procedures.

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