p>The Village of Palmetto Bay's new mayor could have been at the center of one of the biggest scandals to rock Miami's most recognizable homeless charity, Camillus House. Peter England, who faces Shelley Stanczyk in a November 16 runoff, was Camillus's government relations director in 2004 when a former employee sued the agency for wrongful termination and accused England of violating state campaign finance laws.
Camillus House settled with Ty Hart, the agency's former development director, for an undisclosed amount, but in his federal complaint, Hart claimed England pressured co-workers to make political contributions to local candidates who were subsequently reimbursed by the agency. State law prohibits employers from laundering campaign donations through employees.
England, who no longer works at Camillus, was never charged with a crime, but Hart still insists his ex-colleague was constantly pushing charity personnel to give money to local campaigns. "That was England's standard operating procedure," Hart says. "I didn't want to go along with that. It only took me two weeks to figure out things were crooked."
Reached on his cell phone November 7, England, who at candidate forums has emphatically denied the accusations, said he was too busy to answer questions, adding, "I'll see if I can get back to you."
Hart accused England of trying to coerce him into making illegal campaign contributions on six occasions. Hart also claimed he knew other employees who were reimbursed for contributing. "I refused to do it because I believe stealing from the homeless and the poor is a sin," he says.