Orlando City Commissioner Patty Sheehan made headlines in November when she claimed to WFTV Channel 9 News her political career was threatened by Mayor Buddy Dyer’s administration. However, new records obtained from the City of Orlando show Commissioner Sheehan has apparently admitted she lied on camera while issuing false statements about the threats.
Commissioner Sheehan has been relatively quiet since she made the serious public allegations against Dyer’s administration. In the months prior to the statements about being threatened, Sheehan was extremely critical of the Dyer administration on several key agenda items for the Mayor including historic Tinker Field. Sheehan’s criticism culminated with on-air allegations that Dyer’s staff threatened her political career.
From the November WFTV report:
Commissioner Patty Sheehan told Channel 9’s Lori Brown that Dyer’s staff threatened her political career if she doesn’t keep quiet about issues like saving the historic baseball park. “I was told it might not be in my best political interest to continue to be against the mayor on these things. I think that’s silly,” said Sheehan.
Many in the community, including local political commentator Frank Torres, called on Commissioner Sheehan to name names at the time. “It might not be in her best political interest? That’s a pretty gangster thing to say,” Torres wrote at the time. “They don’t go into the identity of the staffer(s) who told Sheehan not to see the stand-off out, but the voters deserve to know.”
But it turns out, Sheehan will not be naming names. It turns out, there is now a paper trail spelling out very clearly that Commissioner Sheehan lied to WFTV, voters and the public when she made the apparent false statements. According to an email from Frank Billingsley (Chief of Staff for Mayor Dyer) to Patty Sheehan, Billingsley makes it clear in writing Sheehan admitted over a phone conversation there was no threat made against her. From the email dated December 1, 2014:
“I am relieved to know from you that no one from the Mayor’s staff actually threatened you or your future…this would be a disciplinary offense and would not be tolerated by Mayor Dyer or myself. We take this very seriously but based on your verification that there was not a threat made by City staff we do not need to investigate further.”
Questions still surround why Commissioner Sheehan, who has higher political ambitions, would fabricate such a story in front of the media camera. Was it just grandstanding or a Commissioner seeking the spotlight? Or was a threat actually made, only to be followed up with a phone call directly from Mayor Dyer’s Chief of Staff to make the whole thing disappear? Did Sheehan get a shake-down from Chief of Staff Billingsley and change her story or does she just have a “foggy memory” like NBC’s Brian Williams?
Either Commissioner Sheehan lied on camera and owes the public and her voters an apology and an explanation, or Sheehan was threatened again and the Dyer administration cleverly created a paper trail to discredit Sheehan, paint her as a liar and cover up serious allegations made against the City.
Unless Commissioner Sheehan says anything different from the latest version, it simply looks like she lied. Or Sheehan is being pushed around by the Mayor’s office again and continues to be silenced.