Trouble for Thompson?
New developments are emerging surrounding the Orange County Commissioners’ text message habits during the Earned Sick Time debate that could spell major trouble for Commissioner Jennifer Thompson. Thompson still has not released her text messages from the September 11, 2012 commission meeting to the public, despite ongoing records requests. She continues to claim she and her cell provider are unable to obtain the missing messages. She adds that her texts with lobbyists were nothing more than “girl talk.”
But now the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) has launched an inquiry into the issue after newly elected State Attorney Jeff Ashton requested a further investigation. This is the first major action taken on the texting matter and will look into the criminal allegations being made. Ashton’s office now says they will make no further comments on the matter until the FDLE inquiry is completed.
Also adding to the brewing trouble is a citizen complaint that was issued by former state house candidate and Orange County teacher Sean Ashby. Ashby filed an official complaint with Ashton’s office this week requesting “a criminal investigation into members of the Orange County Board of County Commissioners.”
However, Ashton’s office requested the FDLE inquiry nearly two weeks ago during a January 17th meeting, prior to receiving the citizen complaint. Thompson is expected to draw heavy opposition in her re-election bid, and Ashby could be lining up for a potential run.
Thompson has been at the center of the Earned Sick Time fight which ultimately sidelined the first citizen initiative to qualify by petition for a ballot in Orange County. She has also been the most vocal and trusted voice for business interests and the Chamber of Commerce, who are leading the fight against Sick Time.
Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs released her messages and has called for stronger reforms to prevent this from happening again in the future. Mayor Jacobs released a statement regarding the new FDLE inquiry: “The public deserves and expects a transparent Orange County government. The FDLE inquiry requested by the State Attorney should provide an independent review of the facts and I will do whatever I can to help expedite this process.”