Commissioner White criticized for Brandon Chamber ties
TAMPA -- Hillsborough County Commissioner Stacy White defended his work on a local chamber of commerce against allegations it presented a conflict of interest.
White said he didn't need to recuse himself from voting on whether to widen Lithia Pinecrest Road just because he’s a board member for the Greater Brandon Chamber of Commerce.
The Brandon Chamber supports the widening.
Residents along Lithia Pinecrest came out in strong opposition to the widening, with concerns it would change their way of life and lead to more development and traffic into the Brandon shopping district. The county may also have to acquire dozens of properties along the road in order to widen it, displacing some residents.
Several residents brought up White’s position with Brandon Chamber and said that compromised his objectivity. Therefore, he shouldn’t vote.
White said his position on the board is entirely volunteer and he has no personal stake in the widening of Lithia Pinecrest. The Hillsborough County attorney’s office confirmed White did not legally have to recuse himself.
“I take ethics seriously -- dead seriously,” White said. “And I also take great pride in my reputation being regarded as a man of honesty and integrity.
“I have no business interests that would benefit from the widening,” he added. “And I stand to realize zero benefit from the widening of lithia Pinecrest Road.”
Questions about White’s position with the Brandon Chamber came as commissioners voted to advance a list of transportation projects it will pay for with the $600 million set aside for the next 10 years. The widening of Lithia Pinecrest Road was included in the list, though White that could change before the project is formally added to the county’s capital improvement plan.
“We’re not signing in blood today,” White said. “I’m comfortable with tiptoeing forward.”
Commissioner Ken Hagan backed up his colleague’s right to weigh in.
“Commissioner White it is ridiculous for anyone to suggest that because you volunteer your time and serve on a board that you personally benefit from that,” Hagan said. “Frankly, that’s absurd.”