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Hillsborough County shops for agency to investigate Buddy Johnson

TAMPA — Hillsborough County may find few takers in its search for an outside agency to investigate how former Supervisor of Elections Buddy Johnson racked up a deficit of at least $3 million.

On Monday, County Attorney Ren'ee Lee mailed a letter and an audit of Johnson's office to eight agencies or officials: Gov. Charlie Crist, the FBI, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Department of State, the Commission on Ethics, the auditor general, the attorney general, and the Department of Financial Services.

Lee said she hasn't heard back from any of them, but then again, they probably won't get the letter until today or Friday.

The FBI's policy forbids officials from confirming or denying that they've opened a case. The Commission on Ethics has already received a complaint from a Clearwater man about Johnson, but officials don't comment on ongoing cases until they reach a certain point in the investigation.

On Monday, Attorney General Bill McCollum said it's unlikely his office would launch a probe. Same with Alex Sink, the state's chief financial officer, who heads the Department of Financial Services.

Possible investigating agencies include the Auditor General's Office, which would have to be directed to conduct an audit by a committee of lawmakers.

Secretary of State Kurt Browning said he's awaiting the results of a second audit that should be done in two months. The Federal Elections Commission is awaiting the same results.

That leaves the FDLE.

Crist could request that the FDLE take a look at the case, but he hasn't received the letter yet, said a spokesman, Sterling Ivey.

"We're aware of the case and we're monitoring it," said Heather Smith, an FDLE spokesman. "We just haven't seen anything yet."

Michael Van Sickler can be reached at mvansickler@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3402.

Hillsborough County shops for agency to investigate Buddy Johnson 02/11/09 [Last modified: Thursday, February 12, 2009 12:10am]

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