Epilogue: Winners & losers out of the OOCEA scandal

in Uncategorized by

A former Florida lawmaker, a state transportation official and a former board member of an Orlando expressway authority were indicted Wednesday on misdemeanor charges of violating public meeting laws.

A grand jury indicted former Florida House member Chris Dorworth, Florida Department of Transportation public affairs worker Rebekah Hammond and Scott Batterson, a former board member of the Orlando Orange County Expressway Authority.

The indictments came hours after another former board member, Marco Pena, pleaded guilty to violating Florida’s open meetings law and testified in front of the grand jury.

Now that this scandal has reached its conclusion (right?), here is my take on who are the winners and losers.

The only virtuous winners are Theresa Jacobs, Walter Ketcham, former OOCEA executive director Max Crumit, and State Attorney Jeff Ashton.

Ketcham and Jacobs are winners because they did the right thing in the chaos of the attempted coup of a government agency with a $300 million budget. Crumit is a winner because the rationale for his termination has been proven to be a trumped-up narrative to justify a power grab.  

And Ashton because he had the courage and persistence to right a wrong.

Other less virtuous winners are Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Ananth Prasad and his subordinate Noranne Downs because they managed to avoid an indictment. This is also a collateral win for Gov. Rick Scott because he doesn’t have to fire his DOT secretary.

The clear-cut losers:  Scott Batterson, Chris Dorworth, and Rebekah Hammond. For the rest of their lives they (and their employers) will now have to soft shoe around that pesky question that clients often ask: Have you or any member of your firm ever been indicted on criminal charges related to your professional conduct?

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.