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Panama City Beach Looks At Hiring Outside Firm To Investigate Whistleblower Complaint

Panama City Beach Government

Panama City Beach officials are considering contracting with an outside legal firm to conduct an internal investigation after the former city manager filed a complaint with the City Council.

At the last City Council meeting, former City Manager Tony O’Rourke stated that he lodged a whistleblower complaint one day before council members fired him. O’Rourke said the letter contained details related to “suspected acts of gross mismanagement, waste of public funds and neglect of duty.”

That memo triggered an internal investigation. Now the city is looking at hiring legal firm Holland and Knight in Miami to look into the complaint.

The firm’s attorneys have experience with investigating, responding to and defending against whistleblower complaints.

City officials have denied a pubic records request for O’Rourke’s memo because it’s related to an active internal investigation.

City Council members will consider hiring the outside firm at their next regular meeting Thursday at 9 a.m.

Valerie Crowder hosts and produces state and local newscasts during All Things Considered. Her reporting on local government and politics has received state and regional award recognition. She has also contributed stories to NPR newscasts.