Hillsborough Commissioner Victor Crist asks county to pay his PTC legal bills
TAMPA — Even though talks with Uber and Lyft have stalled, Public Transportation Commission Chairman Victor Crist is still fending off legal attacks from taxicab firms upset that he is trying to legalize rideshare In Hillsborough County.
Next week, Hillsborough County commissioners will be asked to approve spending up to $7,500 for an outside attorney to represent Crist who is the target of an ethics complaint filed by Louis Minardi, the owner of Yellow Cab Company. Crist sits on the county commission and is one of its two representatives to the PTC, which regulates for-hire vehicles in Hillsborough.
The complaint states that Crist has a conflict of interest because his wife, Angela Crist, works at the University of South Florida as the director of the John Scott Dailey Institute of Government.
It includes affidavits from three cab company employees and the son of another stating that they overheard conversations with Crist in which he acknowledged his wife needs the good will of legislators like state Sens. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, and Jamie Grant, R-Tampa, to obtain state grants.
Those senators support ridesharing and the abolition of the PTC, which operates under a state charter and regulates for-hire vehicles.
The same complaint was also made in a legal petition filed with the PTC and later with the 2nd District Court of Appeal, which has yet to rule on the case.
Crist said the ethics complaint was another attempt to intimidate him and other members of the PTC by firms threatened by the legalization of rideshare in Hillsborough.
“It is completely false and unfounded and, I believe, will be thrown out and not even considered by the Ethics Commission,” Crist said.