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Latest Scandal at Ag Department Is Bad News For Adam Putnam's Gubernatorial Ambitions

Posted

Latest Scandal at Ag Department Is Bad News For Adam Putnam's Gubernatorial Ambitions

 

Today, The Tampa Bay Times reported that Adam Putnam’s refusal to settle a lawsuit brought by nearly 12,000 property owners is costing taxpayers $2,199 each day — and hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees. Last week, a Lee County Judge said in a ruling that Putnam’s refusal to pay the funds risked putting him in contempt of court — and that the Agriculture Commissioner was essentially lying about his department's refusal to honor the rights of Florida property owners. 

 

After nearly 15 years of litigation (Putnam has been Agriculture Commissioner for nearly half of that period), the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services owes homeowners nearly $17 million. 

 

“Florida taxpayers are literally paying the price for Adam Putnam’s incompetence,” said FDP spokesperson Kevin Donohoe. “Putnam has a long record of putting his own political ambitions above what’s right for the people of Florida. Why would Floridians send Putnam to the governor's mansion when he can’t even manage the Department of Agriculture?"

 

Putnam’s tenure at the Department of Agriculture has been marked by scandal after scandal. Putnam has consistently mismanaged the state’s conceal carry program — and at one point even allowed hackers to gain access to thousands of records. And last year, Putnam came under fire for removing health inspection information from the department’s website after an investigation revealed Publix – a major campaign donor – had several locations which failed their most recent health inspections.

 

Tampa Bay Times: Judge: Adam Putnam’s refusal to pay citrus tree owners ‘contrary to oath he took’

 

KEY POINTS:

  • “Every day the case drags on, the interest owed by taxpayers goes up by another $2,199.
  • "In a scathing decision, Circuit Judge Keith Kyle in Fort Myers criticized Putnam for 'rationalizations and excuses' that are 'without merit and wholly unacceptable.'"
  • "’Commissioner Putnam essentially has done absolutely nothing to attempt to secure payment for the (homeowners) because he apparently has no obligation to do so, despite the finality of the instant judgments,’ Kyle wrote in a March 20 order.”
  • “Citing past comments by Putnam that the Florida Supreme Court should review ‘wildly different amounts’ awarded by courts to homeowners in canker cases in Broward, Palm Beach and Orange counties, the judge called that statement ‘inaccurate, misleading, and contrary to the oath (Putnam) took’ under Florida's Constitution. ‘The commandment to pay full compensation when the state takes private private property for a public purpose has been enshrined in the Florida Constitution for more than 150 years,’ Kyle wrote."
  • “Kyle's order, pointedly criticizing a conservative Republican for trampling on private property rights, is potential ammunition for Putnam's rivals for the GOP nomination.”
  • “Last year Putnam asked lawmakers for $450,000 to cover his agency's legal fees in the case, which the judge said ‘one might consider the epitome of irony.’”

 

SEE ALSO:

Tampa Bay Times: Adam Putnam’s bid for Florida governor complicated by citrus industry woes

Tampa Bay Times: Florida pays $437,000 in dispute over skim milk

WTSP: Dept. of Agriculture warns conceal weapons permit holders of data breach

ABC Action News: Dirty Dining: Grocery store inspections lack grades following investigation into Publix