Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Gov. Rick Scott lawyer to Supreme Court: My facts were wrong on high speed rail

TALLAHASSEE — It's likely too late to make a difference now, but Gov. Rick Scott's attorney on Thursday sent a letter to the Florida Supreme Court admitting he got a key fact wrong when he argued on behalf of the governor in a lawsuit challenging his decision to kill the high-speed rail project between Tampa and Orlando.

Scott attorney Charles Trippe told the court in oral arguments on March 3 that the state had spent $110 million of the $131 million appropriated by the federal government to build the line.

"In fact, approximately $31 million has been spent on the high speed rail project," Trippe wrote in a two-page letter to the court. "I sincerely regret the error."

Trippe blamed the mistake on miscommunication with the Florida Department of Transportation.

State Sens. Thad Altman and Arthenia Joyner filed the suit against the governor to compel him to allow the high-speed rail project to go forward. They argued that he had overstepped his executive authority by refusing to spend money appropriated by state lawmakers and moving forward with a project approved by the Legislature in a special session. But with a deadline looming to make a decision, the justices denied the petition, saying they had limited information on which to rule. As a result, the U.S. Department of Transportation yanked $2.4 billion designated for Florida to build the 84-mile bullet train.

Altman said he believes the dollar figure was critical to the case, because the large sum of unspent money shows the governor was "impounding" funds he was obligated to spend.

"We were approaching the end of the fiscal year. And if he spent $110 million out of the $131 million, how do you allege he's not implementing the law? He spent a vast majority of the money," Altman said. "But if it's only $30 million, and there are only four months left in the fiscal year, it's a stronger case."

Altman said he isn't sure if he will reopen the case. Doing so would not likely make a difference in terms of getting the money back to Florida to pay for the project. But it could make a point.

"There was a big misrepresentation of the facts. Would this be a legitimate reason to reopen this case and reassert that the governor misused his authority? Certainly, clearly it shows either his office didn't know what was going on or they misrepresented the facts," Altman said. "What is the bigger and more important question is the misuse of executive authority and not faithfully implementing the law. That applies not only to rail, but many other things."

A second suit has been filed in the Florida Supreme Court arguing that the governor overstepped his authority be freezing rules working their way through the rule-making process. The court has ordered the governor to submit a response to that case on April 25.

Gov. Rick Scott lawyer to Supreme Court: My facts were wrong on high speed rail 04/14/11 [Last modified: Friday, April 15, 2011 1:03pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Bucs' Doug Martin relying on strength from drug rehab to power his return

    Bucs

    TAMPA — He would not talk about the drug he abused. He would not identify the rehab facility he entered in January or how long he was there.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Doug Martin participates in an "open OTA practice" at One Buc Place, the team's training facility, in Tampa, Fla., on Tuesday, May 23, 2017.
  2. NCAA: Former USF basketball assistant gave improper benefits

    Colleges

    TAMPA — Former USF men's basketball assistant coach Oliver Antigua provided impermissible benefits, including lodging at his home, for two prospective student-athletes while they received on-campus tutoring, according to findings reported to the school by the NCAA.

  3. Assault charge may not sway voters in Montana election (w/video)

    Nation

    BOZEMAN, Mont. — Republican multimillionaire Greg Gianforte won Montana's only U.S. House seat on Thursday despite being charged a day earlier with assault after witnesses said he grabbed a reporter by the neck and threw him to the ground.

    People fill out ballots for the special election to fill Montana's only U.S. House seat at the Montana Pavilion at MetraPark on Thursday in Billings, Mont. [Associated Press]
  4. Quiet college dropout turned bomber: Who was Salman Abedi?

    World

    LONDON — He was quiet and withdrawn, a college dropout who liked soccer — and, some say, showed alarming signs of being radicalized years before he walked into a pop concert at Britain's Manchester Arena and detonated a powerful bomb, killing himself and 22 others.

    Salman Abedi was identified by British authorities as the man behind Monday’s attack.
  5. Soldiers launch attacks in besieged Philippine city

    World

    MARAWI, Philippines — Backed by tanks and rocket-firing helicopters, Philippine troops launched "precision attacks" Thursday to clear extremists linked to the Islamic State group from a city that has been under siege since a raid that failed to capture one of Asia's most-wanted militants.

    Soldiers fire at enemy positions Thursday while trying to clear the city of Marawi, Philippines, of armed militants.