The Florida Department of Law Enforcement will now be looking into the controversy surrounding texts sent during an Orange County Commission meeting by commissioners -- and whether there were any criminal violations.
The investigation stems from the Sept. 11, 2012 meeting of the commission over a proposed sick-time ballot initiative, in which several county leaders deleted text messages during the meeting. The question is whether some of those deleted text messages were to people who were pushing to have the initiative quashed.
The complaint came from Sean Ashby, a teacher and former state House candidate.
Commissioner Jennifer Thompson in particular is under fire for deleting texts, including 32 that happened that day with a Walt Disney World lobbyist. Disney is one of the companies that fought the sick time initiative, which would require companies to provide employees with paid sick time.
Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs directed her county administrator to look into ways to preserve texts as public records.
Jacobs also is asking commissioners to ban lobbying via text message and voicemail in Orange County, and to end allowing personal email accounts and cell phones to be used to conduct county business.
Mayor Jacobs issued this statement Tuesday:
“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.”