Tallahassee elected, business leaders react

Swift reaction rippled through Tallahassee late Thursday afternoon after Scott Maddox was sentenced to five years in federal prison for his part in a brazen bribery scheme that left his political career in ruins.  

Paige Carter-Smith, his longtime confidante, girlfriend and business partner who steered money to the former city commissioner’s consulting firm, also was sentenced to two years for her role. 

Maddox and Carter-Smith were indicted on 44 counts but pleaded guilty to just three: wire fraud, mail fraud and conspiracy to defraud the United States.

A third defendant, hotel developer and businessman John “J.T.” Burnette, will learn his fate next month following his conviction on four counts.

Day of reckoning:

The federal probe, trial and sentencing rocked the capital city and those who held Maddox and Carter-Smith in high regard.

It also prompted discussion about efforts in City Hall, some proposed and some already codified, to restore public trust in government and bolster ethics policies.

Mayor John Dailey pointed to sweeping ethics reform, passed in 2019, which implemented gift bans, financial disclosures, whistleblower protections and established the Inspector General’s Office.