PRESS RELEASE

CALL FOR GRAND JURY ON ENVIRONMENTAL RACKETEERING IN FLORIDA

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Washington, DC — The investigation into campaign contributions affecting
promotions and enforcement efforts within the Florida Department of Environmental
Protection has been formally referred to the Bay County State Attorney, according
to correspondence received by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility
(PEER). In a letter sent today, PEER is asking the Bay County State Attorney
to convene a publicly empanelled grand jury in order to probe—

  • DEP’s use of campaign contributions made by its own employees as
    a factor in deciding whether to hire, fire or promote the employee. In addition,
    PEER is also asking for a review of the DEP practice of requiring applicants
    for promotion to “interview” with members of industry prior to
    the applicant being given the position sought;
  • The extent to which campaign contributions illegally influenced DEP decisions
    to not pursue anti-pollution enforcement. PEER has uncovered groundwater,
    asbestos and hazardous waste violations at the Big Wheel landfill in Bay County
    that were dropped by DEP in the same time frame that that significant campaign
    contributions were made; and
  • The use of illegal immigrant crews to handle, transport and bury hazardous
    wastes improperly and in a manner unsafe to the workers.

“Something is rotten in the State of Florida but it smells the rankest
in Bay County,” stated Florida PEER Director Jerry Phillips, a former
enforcement attorney for Florida DEP. “Campaign contributions have no
place in pollution enforcement but in DEP the two appear inseparable.”

Steve Meadows, the Bay County State Attorney, campaigned for office on a promise
to make greater use of grand juries composed of citizens chosen from an open
or non-secret selection process.

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Read
the PEER letter requesting that a grand jury be impaneled

Look
at Florida DEP promotions tied to campaign contributions

Find
out about the Big Wheel scandal and the utter breakdown of environmental enforcement

See
the interview with former Big Wheel employee, Danny Walker

View
the campaign contributions from Big Wheel