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Traffic jam at the expressway authority

State Attorney halts questionable ascent of former Rep. Steve Precourt

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So, what does it all mean? Well, beyond the clear fact that the Expressway Authority is at best unnecessary (and at worst, fraudulent), it’s also incredibly confusing and not very sexy to the public, something we’d suspect Precourt was banking on when he tried to grease the wheels that got him here. But in reality, there are so many tentacles flapping around from this five-headed local politics monster that it may just do itself in.

Three board members – Marco Peña, Scott Batterson and Noranne Downs – stand at the center of the State Attorney’s investigation, in which they’ve been accused of plotting to remove former executive director Max Crumit from office behind closed doors (he resigned in October after a vote of no confidence), thereby violating the state’s sunshine laws. At least one of the accused, former Republican legislative candidate Peña, has been defensively vocal about his distaste for the good-old-boy shenanigans that led to the investigation. As befits this staged drama, he even showed up at Val Demings’ mayoral campaign announcement earlier this month, presumably as a jab against an inter-party warring faction that includes Jacobs. Things are getting ugly in this Peyton Place rabbit hole.

With Precourt’s future in limbo (don’t worry about him; he still maintains a financial interest in his former firm Dyer, Riddle, Mills and Precourt, which has taken in more than $10 million from the Expressway Authority since 2004), Jacobs’ once-safe seat in trouble, $1 billion in expressway projects pending and a special election (starring Precourt’s buddy Eric Eisnaugle) to fill the vacant legislative seat, everything is starting to feel very uncertain. And exciting?

“Though the investigation is still in its infancy, I can state that those records raise in my mind a reasonable suspicion that Florida statutes may have been violated and that further investigation, which may involve a Grand Jury, is warranted,” Jeff Ashton wrote in his Jan. 17 letter to the Expressway Authority’s general counsel. Just grand.

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