Following Jeff Brandes’ prompt, FDLE to do preliminary review of complaint on red-light camera

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has begun to look into the request by Senate Transportation Chairman Jeff Brandes for a state investigation into red-light camera contracts held by an Arizona company whose chief executive has pled guilty to bribery charges related to camera contracts in Chicago.

Brandes, a St. Petersburg Republican, is well known for being a fierce critic of the cameras used by local governments throughout the Sunshine State. He and Lehigh Acres GOP state Rep. Matt Caldwell called for an investigation into Redflex Traffic Systems on Wednesday, writing that the company holds contracts for red-light cameras in cities like Clearwater and South Miami. Former Redflex CEO Karen Findley pleaded guilty last month to federal political corruption charges that alleged the company offered $2 million in bribes to local government officials in Chicago to obtain $124 million in contracts.

Yesterday FDLE head Rick Swearingen told the lawmakers that he has assigned the issue to the agency’s Office of Executive Investigations (OEI) for preliminary review and investigation.

The use of red-light camera technology has been controversial going back to its implementation nationally in the 1980s, but more and more cities have begun to phase them out in recent years. In Florida, Brandes has attempted for the past three legislative sessions to repeal the technology without success. There has been more legislation in states around the country to repeal their use, to mixed results. The city of St. Petersburg ended its contract with American Traffic Solutions, the biggest red-light camera vendor in Florida, last September.

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.