Sebastian City Councilman Damien Gilliams is facing scrutiny and ethics complaints from the community after he submitted his application to receive $5,000 grant monies for his business before the start date.
Last Wednesday, the Sebastian City Council voted to approve grant monies for local businesses that were shut down by the recent pandemic. The program is to be advertised first to the public before applications can be accepted.
However, Gilliams broke the rule and submitted his application, placing him first on the list. Gilliams is also accused of taking a sample grant application from his packet during last week’s meeting, made copies of it, and then handed it to a select few in Sebastian to apply for the grant monies.
“This shows how self-serving he is, and not for the interest to the people in our community. It’s a conflict of interest. The man allows his taxes to go into default every year, and now he wants monies before anyone else,” a local business owner told Sebastian Daily.
Immediately after Gilliams filed his application, he called a few businesses to ask them to apply for the grant monies. Local business owners now believe the councilman did so to show he wasn’t the only one submitting his application early before the start date.
Some business owners and residents in the community are now filing an ethics complaint against Gilliams, calling his behavior “wrong and shameful.”
We reached out to Mayor Ed Dodd for a response to Gilliams’ actions.
“No application received prior to the program’s official start date is valid and will not be accepted by the city. Also, any applications already filed will be voided with the applicants notified of the action. The city will notify the public of the start date and time for applications to be submitted.” Dodd told Sebastian Daily.
There are a few Sebastian businesses, such as Mash Monkeys, that have been shut down for most of the pandemic. But, Gilliams’ business, the No Name Bar, has been open.
“This is the type of behavior we expect from Damien. He always throws out unfounded accusations of corruption about other council members, yet he is the only one engaging in corruption. How does he think there is not a conflict of interest in him voting for the grant monies and then applying for the grant. If he had any inclination that he would be applying for this grant, he should have abstained from the vote. Shameful,” Councilman Jim Hill told Sebastian Daily.
Tracey Cole, founder of the Political Action Committee to recall Damien Gilliams and Pamela Parris, also said what Gilliams did was dishonorable.
“I would like to ask Damien Gilliams if he considers being first in line for the grant money as a good public servant? Also, he copied the application from his agenda packet. Does he think this is honorable? He has a bad history of taking grant money,” Cole told Sebastian Daily.
Cole also said Gilliams used his position to get a “jump on the application process” before the local businesses had a chance.