Florida Mayor Accused of Requesting Sex in Exchange for Speed Bumps

Humps for bumps?


Richard Graulich/ZUMA Press/Newscom

David Stewart's tenure as mayor of Lantana, Florida, has hit a speed bump.

In 2015, Catherine Padilla asked the city government to install safety speed bumps after cars in her neighborhood hit a poodle, a cat, and a young girl. Padilla claims Stewart said he'd make sure the speed bumps were installed—if she had sex with him.

According to an ethics panel, there's "probable cause" to think she's telling the truth.

Padilla says that after having lunch with the mayor one day, he drove her to a local motel and said he wanted to "occupy" a room together, The Palm Beach Post reports.

"He pulled into this motel and got out of his van and I just kept motioning no, no I'm not interested," Padilla told WPTV in February.

She has also said that before the Lantana Town Council voted on the speed bumps, the mayor told her he'd make sure they were approved if she slept with him. Once more, she refused.

The council approved the speed bumps anyway, but Padilla says that Stewart threatened to have them removed.

In January of this year, Padilla filed a complaint about Stewart with the Florida Commission on Ethics. Stewart, who's been mayor of Lantana since 2000, has denied the allegations. "In the 18 years I've been mayor there has never been a quid pro quo or anything asked for or given in favor of me voting in a special or certain direction," he told WPTV in February.

Stewart says he didn't go to lunch with Padilla or drive her to a motel. But a local pastor, Michael DeBehnke, told the commission he saw the two at lunch together.

On October 24, the commission announced in a press release there was "probable cause" to believe Stewart acted inappropriately:

The Commission found probable cause to believe that Lantana Mayor DAVID STEWART misused his position to attempt to obtain a sexual benefit for himself. Probable cause also was found to believe he solicited sex from a constituent based on an understanding his vote, official action, or judgment would be influenced.

Stewart subsequently told the Palm Beach Post it would be "inappropriate to comment at this time."

Commission spokesperson Kerrie Stillman tells the Post that Stewart can either settle the case or go before an administrative law judge. If he chooses the second option and is found guilty, he could be fined, suspended, or kicked out of office.