As Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn continues to support red light cameras, it may come as little surprise that he received a big campaign check from Florida’s leading red light camera provider.
State records filed last week show $10,000 in June coming from American Traffic Solutions (ATS) to the Buckhorn-supporting “One Florida” political action committee. Siobhan Harley, a former Buckhorn aide, formed the PAC in late 2014.
Although Buckhorn easily won re-election – facing nearly non-existent opposition — PAC money could be used toward a much-rumored 2018 gubernatorial bid. Also fueling the discussion of statewide ambitions were Buckhorn’s recent appearances in Tallahassee, including a well-received speech at the Tiger Bay Club.
On Friday, ATS spokesman Charles Territo told Noah Pransky of WTSP that his company – the state’s largest vendor of red-light cameras – often backs politicians who are favorable to its programs. He added that in the past ATS had made donations (albeit smaller) to Buckhorn.
“Just as our opponents support (politicians) that oppose our solutions,” American Traffic Solutions Territo said in an email, “ATS supports elected officials that support public safety.”
When WTSP investigated shortened yellow lights at traffic intersections in 2013, Buckhorn did not comment on the issue. When questioned later about the potentially dangerous situation, the mayor insisted that the city would not lengthen yellow intervals unless required by the state.
About a month later, the state did just that, by demanding longer yellow light intervals throughout Florida.
“Red light cameras work,” Buckhorn said to WTSP back in 2013, referring to a city report. “We’re happy crashes are down. They’re saving lives and it’s a pretty simple equation.”
Pransky also reports that Tampa police cherry-picked crash data, which prevented the City Council from discovering the real rate of rear-end crashes, which actually increased in intersections where red light cameras were installed. Also, the city neglected to offer crash analysis reports required by the state to help check the program’s success.
Beth Letyham, an ATS consultant, is also in charge of handling questions about Buckhorn’s campaign, Pransky adds.