Ex-Osceola clerk of court defends self at ethics hearing

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KISSIMMEE, Fla. —

Former Osceola county clerk of court Malcom Thompson defended himself on Tuesday at an ethics hearing.

The state is investigating whether Thompson violated the ethics code by allegedly threatening employees.

Thompson was acquitted on assault and battery charges last year.

Thompson denied ever threatening any of his employees.  

The Florida Commission on Ethics is trying to prove to an administrative judge from Tallahassee that Thompson violated the ethics code by using his position to intimidate his employees.

Most of the testimony centers on what happened following the incident that landed Thompson in a criminal trial.

Last year, he was accused of pushing his assistant during an argument about removing Christmas cards off a door. 

He was acquitted of criminal charges, but the HR director,  Kim Zander, filed an ethics complaint saying Thompson flew into a rage and behaved inappropriately when he found out he was being investigated. 

Zander described how Thompson reacted during a staff meeting.

"[He] lunged out of his chair, I would say, came right at me. Had his finger pointing at me, in my face, saying, 'Don't raise your voice to me,' Zander said.

"I did not threaten anybody. I did not curse anybody and I didn't tell anybody they were going to lose their job.  All I did was shake my finger at her," Thompson said.

Much of the testimony during Tuesday’s hearing mirrored Thompson's criminal trial from last year, where he was acquitted of charges stemming from the same two incidents.

 And when Thompson testified Tuesday afternoon, he took exception to his integrity being questioned.

 “I’m very proud of being clerk of court, and I take that as a rub against my own honor,” he said.

Several employees will testify on Tuesday. The judge said he expects to take about 30 days to determine whether Thompson violated any ethics law.

 If the judge rules he did, Thompson could face up to $10,000 in fines.

Meanwhile, the new Clerk of Court was sworn in Tuesday.   

Thompson lost his bid for reelection to Armando Ramirez.