August in Florida can be pretty hot, especially if you happen to be a mayor allegedly involved in impropriety. On Wednesday, Homestead Mayor Steven Bateman became the third Florida mayor arrested this month on corruption charges, joining the mayors of Miami Lakes and Sweetwater.
Bateman, 58, was allegedly paid $125 an hour as a consultant for a health care company that sought city and county government approval for a sewer connection so it could build a clinic in Homestead, Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle told Local 10 Miami.
Bateman allegedly ran afoul of the law by not telling the government officials he was lobbying for the clinic that he was being paid by the health care company, identified as Community Health Care Solutions of Florida.
"It's another very sad day for the people of Miami-Dade County," Fernandez Rundle told reporters during a news conference Wednesday announcing the corruption charges against Bateman. "At no time did Bateman disclose that these contacts were done for a private employer. That should have been done."
Bateman appeared in a local court Wednesday afternoon and is out on bond, CBS Miami reported. After the bond hearing, the Homestead mayor’s attorney said his client is innocent of the corruption charges.
“Mayor Bateman looks forward to holding his head up high to continuing to serve his community and to obtain his ultimate vindication,” attorney Ben Kuehne told CBS Miami.
Bateman faces a number of corruption charges, including accepting illegal compensation and unregistered lobbying.
"We believe that enriching oneself by using the power and the prestige of an elected, public office not only enrages the community but [also] -- more importantly and fundamentally -- it violates the law," Fernandez Rundle said.
Following the arrest, Florida Gov. Rick Scott suspended Bateman from office Wednesday afternoon. Bateman had been running for re-election when he was hit with the corruption charges.
Bateman’s deputy, Homestead Vice Mayor Jon Burgess, said the city was cooperating with investigators.
"Although there has been a lot of talk about it happening, it's still unexpected because you never know what's going to happen," Burgess told Local 10 Miami. "We had a cancer in-house. We've taken care of it. We're cooperating fully with the State Attorney's office. The team here has done magnificent things. As we move forward, I have full confidence that we will cooperate fully with anybody that asks and that the team here will move the city into a better spot now that we've been rid of what I consider a cancer."
Bateman is the third Florida mayor this month to be arrested for corruption. Manuel Morono, the mayor of Sweetwater, and Mayor Michael Pizzi of Miami Lakes were arrested Aug. 6 on corruption charges. Morono and Pizzi were also suspended by the governor in the wake of the criminal charges against them.