Childers Loses Sunshine Appeal in Corruption Scandal

Former Florida Senate President W.D. Childers has lost an appeal of convictions for violating the state's “sunshine law.”

The law bans speaking privately about government business. In Childers' case, it was with a fellow Escambia County commissioner.

A three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal has affirmed his guilt on two counts. The same court is to hear oral argument next month in Childers' appeal on more serious bribery charges.

Two years ago, a jury convicted Childers of violating the sunshine law by talking about public business in private with Commissioner Terry Smith. Childers was elected a county
commissioner in 2000 when term limits forced him out of the Senate after 30 years. His Senate district stretched from Pensacola all the way to Panama City.

Jurors acquitted Childers of two similar sunshine charges also involving discussions with other commissioners but deadlocked on a fourth. Childers later pleaded no contest to the last count while reserving the right to appeal it along with the jury conviction.