1. Florida Politics
  2. /
  3. The Buzz

Senator wants greater oversight of FDOT settlements after SunPass deal

The move is in the wake of reporting that Department of Transportation officials paid a company $3.6 million to drop its bid in 2014.
A view of the I-275 northbound Sunpass lane at the Skyway Bridge photographed in 2015 from a reporter's car. [WILL VRAGOVIC | Times]
Published Apr. 19

State Sen. Tom Lee wants lawmakers to have oversight over transportation department settlements after news broke that state officials made a secret $3.6 million settlement to get a bidder on the state’s SunPass project to go away five years ago.

The Thonotosassa Republican has been raising questions about the settlement since it was detailed by the Times/Herald earlier last month.

The settlement went to San Diego-based Cubic Transportation Systems, one of the companies that bid on a an estimated $600 million project to overhaul the state’s SunPass toll system.

The department deviated from its own rules to award the contract to one of Cubic’s competitors, New Jersey-based Conduent, which had ties to Gov. Rick Scott, and which badly botched its takeover of the SunPass system last summer.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: How Florida’s SunPass debacle started in 2012

Florida spent $3.6 million for a company to drop its SunPass bid. Is this normal?

SunPass: FDOT fines contractor $4.6 million, replaces tolling director

When Cubic protested the selection of Conduent, a judge sided against them. But when Cubic’s lawyers appealed the judge’s decision, a federal appellate court granted them a permanent stay, prohibiting the department from reaching a deal with Conduent.

Then, in a highly unusual move, Department of Transportation Secretary Ananth Prasad convinced Cubic executives to drop their appeal, in exchange for $3.6 million. The deal allowed the department to reach a deal with Conduent.

The department never told lawmakers about the settlement, and they claimed at the time that it was buying up intellectual property Cubic used in its bid.

The new transportation secretary told Lee last month, however, that the department has no evidence it ever used Cubic’s property.

Lee’s amendment would require the Department of Transportation to do a thorough analysis before paying a settlement to a company bidding on one of the department’s contracts.

It would also require transportation officials notify the House speaker, Senate president, the House and Senate minority leaders, the chair and vice chair of the Legislative Budget Commission and the attorney general whenever the department is in settlement talks with a bidder.

Lee had filed the same amendment to a different transportation bill this week.

But in the frantic final minutes of a Senate Appropriations Committee meeting on Thursday, committee chairman Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island, removed Lee’s amendment from the bill with no discussion.

Lee wasn’t able to present the amendment and senators weren’t allowed to vote on it. Two other different amendments were taken out with no discussion as well.

On Friday, Lee fixed the problem by filing the same amendment to one of his own bills, which would create a massive toll road project throughout the state. The bill is a priority for Senate President Bill Galvano.

That bill — and Lee’s amendment — could be heard on the Senate floor as early as next week.


  1. FILE - In this Aug. 1, 2019, file photo, Donald Trump Jr. speaks before the arrival of President Donald Trump at a campaign rally at U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File) JOHN MINCHILLO  |  AP
    University of Florida student body president Michael Murphy received a resolution for his impeachment Tuesday. Then the state’s Republican Party started an online petition and fundraiser.
  2. Rep. Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples, filed a bill, HB 1161, to implement online voter registration in 2018.
    This week, GOP senators rallied support around Sen. Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples, to become Senate president for the 2023 and 2024 legislative session.
  3. Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, right, testifies before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington on Friday, in the second public impeachment hearing of President Donald Trump's efforts to tie U.S. aid for Ukraine to investigations of his political opponents. SUSAN WALSH  |  AP
    Experts on foreign policy said it was ridiculous to think that one person could turn a country “bad.”
  4. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., left, talks with ranking member Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., during a hearing of the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2019, during the first public impeachment hearing of President Donald Trump's efforts to tie U.S. aid for Ukraine to investigations of his political opponents. (Saul Loeb/Pool Photo via AP) SAUL LOEB  |  AP
    Almost 9 in 10 think the House impeaches Trump but the Senate won’t convict.
  5. U.S. District Judge Mark Walker speaking during 2016 graduation ceremonies at the Florida State University College of Law. [Florida State College of Law] Florida State College of Law
    The ruling, if it’s not overturned, means that President Donald Trump will not automatically be first on the 2020 ballot in Florida.
  6. The U.S. Attorney's Office in Pensacola.
    Prosecutors say Farm Service Agency director Duane E. Crawson, 43, of Bonifay, led a conspiracy to get his friends, family members and acquaintances to recruit others to submit false applications for...
  7. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaks at the Panama City City Hall on Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019. His wife Casey DeSantis is pregnant with the family's third child. He joked that the family will have to transition from "man-to-man to zone defense." (Joshua Boucher/News Herald via AP) JOSHUA BOUCHER/ THE NEWS HERALD  |  AP
    The federal judge had ordered that 17 felons not be removed from the voter rolls before a lawsuit goes to trial next year.
  8. In this Nov. 12, 2019 file photo, Roger Stone, a longtime Republican provocateur and former confidant of President Donald Trump, waits in line at the federal court in Washington. MANUEL BALCE CENETA  |  AP
    Roger Stone, a longtime friend and ally of President Donald Trump, was found guilty Friday of witness tampering and lying to Congress about his pursuit of Russian-hacked emails damaging to Hillary...
  9. The Capitol is seen in Washington on. Impeachment hearings for President Donald Trump come at the very time that Capitol Hill usually tends to its mound of unfinished business. J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE  |  AP
  10. This March 7, 2016, file photo shows the Trump National Doral clubhouse in Doral. WILFREDO LEE  |  AP
    A party spokeswoman confirmed to the Miami Herald Thursday that the annual event, to be held over several days in late January, will take place at Trump National Doral Miami, located near Miami...