The new head of the Orlando-Orange County Expressway Authority may have to wait to start his job. State Attorney Jeff Ashton says he may get a grand jury involved after controversy over how the new director was chosen.
Just last week, the Orlando-Orange County Expressway Authority voted 3-2 to pick former state Rep. Steve Precourt, R-Orlando, as its new executive director.
But that pick followed months of controversy, and even the launch of a state attorney’s office investigation into whether Expressway Authority board members violated Sunshine Laws by possibly collaborating in secret to vote to oust Max Crumit, the previous director.
Precourt's name surfaced after the vote as a successor. However, there are no allegations or indications he ever met with board members prior to that vote.
In a letter Friday, State Attorney Jeff Ashton essentially asked the board to hold off on hiring a new executive director.
"What I perceive as a lack of a candor and questionable lapses in memory which we experienced in recent interviews of witnesses only reinforces my suspicions. While the investigation is not complete and I will not prejudge its final conclusion, I have seen and heard enough to counsel caution in making any changes in the leadership of an organization as important to this community as the Orlando-Orange County Expressway Authority."
Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs, a member of the board, issued this statement Friday.
“I objected to the decision last week. It’s hard to know whether Mr. Ashton’s letter will have an effect at this point. But I certainly support a delay in the decision, at least until the investigation is complete.”
The state attorney said he will move swiftly to complete his investigation into whether any criminal charges will need to be filed. He said either way, he wants to clear all of this up so the Expressway Authority, and its new leader, can move forward.