Questioning the county's oversight of one of the most ambitious economic development projects in decades, U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek sent a letter Monday to Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez demanding the county stop all federal funding for the troubled Poinciana Biopharmaceutical Park.
The letter comes one day after The Miami Herald began publishing an investigative series that found Boston developer Dennis Stackhouse diverted hundreds of thousand of dollars through double billings and dubious expense connected to the biotech park.
''The county must act immediately to ensure that any funds improperly expended . . . be recovered,'' Meek's letter said.
Stackhouse drew the money from a county-funded poverty agency, the Miami-Dade Empowerment Trust, which failed to keep tabs on the developer's spending, the series showed.
The park was supposed to draw multinational drug companies and prestigious research universities to Liberty City, creating thousands of high-tech jobs and hundreds of millions in investments in one of the poorest neighborhoods in the country.
But a seven-month investigation by the newspaper found most of the tenants did not even know the development existed.
''In the absence of any proof of these commitments and tighter oversight by the county, this biopharmaceutical park project does not merit public support,'' the congressman said.
During the past three years, Meek's mother, former U.S. Rep. Carrie Meek, received thousands of dollars and a leased car from the developer's companies for consulting work, while Kendrick Meek moved to secure millions in federal dollars for the project.