By Jacob Engels
This Wednesday August 28, State Attorney Jeff Ashton will release the findings of the criminal investigations stemming from the “Textgate” scandal last fall. Many political experts in Orange County see this as trouble for those involved, including Avalon Park resident and District 4 Commissioner Jennifer Thompson.
The investigation revolves around the September 11th meeting of the BCC meeting where the sick time petition, a petition signed by 50,000 residents of Orange County, was stalled by the board. A judge has since ruled this stalling was illegal, and against the wishes of those who presented the petitions.
Lawsuits ensued and it was discovered that members of the board and staffers were communicating with corporate lobbyists during the meeting via text messages. By law these messages are public record, however two commissioners have admitted to deleting them including Commissioner Jennifer Thompson, who says 32 messages between her and a Disney lobbyist were “girl talk”. These texts took place during the meeting in which she voted to not allow sick time to be placed on the ballot, a vote many powerful companies in Orange County were seeking, including Disney.
The press conference Wednesday is bad news for Commissioner Thompson in one of three ways –
- She could be charged with a felony and possibly be suspended from office by Governor Rick Scott.
- She could be charged with one or more misdemeanors. Although not a removable offence, would add another blemish to her record as she enters a re-election year.
- No charges, but she has already admitted to destroying records, and making questionable decisions benefiting the powerful lobbyists of Central Florida.
Wednesday afternoon will be a big day as Orange County looks to move forward from yet another scandal which has rocked Central Florida.
Jacob Engels, is the Founder of East Orlando Post. Along with the Post, he owns several other businesses and is currently enrolled at Valencia College. Jacob has lived in Avalon Park since it’s founding and enjoys playing with his black Labradoodle Jasper, listening to indie rock, and seeking out new business ventures. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org