State lawmakers want the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate whether a political bribery scandal at a company that sells red-light cameras extends to the firm’s contracts with five Florida cities.
At best, Redflex Traffic Systems sells devices that are a pain for drivers who run red lights and that Marco Rubio has called a “scam.” At worst, say state Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, and Rep. Matt Caldwell, R-North Fort Myers, the company could have bribed local officials to win its contracts.
Last month, former Redflex CEO Karen Finley pleaded guilty to federal conspiracy charges in Ohio after being accused of bribing officials in Columbus and Cincinnati. She and Redflex face similar charges in Illinois, where the company admitted to paying $2 million in bribes to Chicago politicians.
No specific allegations have been made about bribes being offered to or accepted by officials in Clearwater, South Miami, Jacksonville, Kissimmee or Pinecrest, the Florida cities that hold Redflex contracts. Still, Brandes says, the bribery elsewhere suggests that FDLE should look into the cities’ contracts.
Never miss a local story.
“There is no doubt that was part of their culture and that was part of their business plan,” said Brandes, who chairs the Senate’s Transportation Committee. “The rational nexus is that they’re probably bribing people in Florida, or at least we should look into it.”
Redflex spokesperson Tilden Katz said that the company took action to address corruption in other states.
“More than two years ago, after a small number of employees and consultants violated company policies, we took strong corrective action,” Katz said in a statement. “There has never been any credible evidence of wrongdoing in Florida and we have hundreds of contracts with local governments around the country… We intend to lead the industry in how public-private partnerships are managed.”
FDLE has not yet decided if it will open an investigation.
Contact Michael Auslen at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Michael Auslen.