Report: Lead-up to ousting of OOCEA head Max Crumit may have violated Sunshine Laws

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The lead-up to the decision to remove the head one of Florida’s largest toll road agencies may have violated Florida’s Sunshine Laws, reports Greg Fox on WESH 2 News.

Responding to a complaint by the chair of the Expressway Authority, the state attorney is investigating whether discussions on the vote to fire Orlando-Orange County Expressway Authority Executive Director Max Crumit violated the state’s open meeting laws.

A series of text messages between three Expressway Board members who voted to remove Crumit suggests possible inappropriate conversations and phone calls to the secretary of the Florida Department of Transportation.

Noranne Downs is the regional secretary for the FDOT and sits on the board of the Expressway Authority. Downs was also one of the three voting to replace Crumit after he said he was looking to leave for a job in the private sector. After the August 28 no-confidence vote, Crumit provided a transition plan, and announced he would leave by Oct. 1.

The complaint claims that Downs, along with board members Marco Pena and Scott Batterson, collaborated before voting to remove Crumit. In addition, text messages show that Batterson and Pena communicated with the head of the State Department of Transportation Ananth Prasad prior to the vote. Both could be violations of the state’s Sunshine Laws.

WESH 2 spoke with Downs and a spokesperson for Prasad. Both denied coordinating the vote against Crumit.

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.