1. Florida Politics
  2. /
  3. The Buzz

Senator wants hearings to investigate SunPass problems

“We must perform our oversight function as senators," Sen. Annette Taddeo wrote.
Annette Taddeo, the running mate of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist, chants with supporters before marching to an early voting site on the first day of early voting, Monday, Oct. 20, 2014 photo, in the Miami neighborhood of Little Haiti. Crist is running against Florida Republican Governor Rick Scott in an election Nov. 4. [Lynne Sladky | Associated Press]
Published Jul. 12
Updated Jul. 12

State Sen. Annette Taddeo is asking for legislative hearings to investigate why a company so badly botched its takeover of SunPass tolls last year.

On Friday, the Miami Democrat wrote to Sen. Tom Lee, a Thonotosassa Republican who chairs the Infrastructure and Security Committee, to schedule and hold hearings on the issue, which has led to headaches for motorists and airport officials alike.

Lee said in a text message that he appreciated her letter and called her a “strong advocate” for his committee’s oversight of the issue, but he stopped short of agreeing to investigative hearings.

An inspector general report into the debacle is due by the end of the summer, and Lee said he planned on asking state transportation officials to brief his committee about it.

“The current administration is not responsible for the events of the past, but this a $300m contract with a vendor who has failed us miserably,” Lee wrote. “They may be politically connect[ed], but their failure to perform has been an embarrassment to our state and an inconvenience to Sunpass customers.”

He added, “We should all be held accountable for how seriously we deal with the economic and reputational damage this vendor has caused.”

RELATED: ‘Serious disruption:’ SunPass breakdowns leave Florida airports fed up, new records show

How Florida’s SunPass debacle started in 2012

Florida won’t renew SunPass contract with troubled contractor, transportation secretary says

New Jersey-based Conduent State & Local Solutions has had numerous problems since it took over processing the state’s tolls last year. And on Wednesday, the Department of Transportation said it wasn’t renewing the last seven years on its estimated 14-year, $600 million contract with Conduent.

“The problems involving Sunpass and Conduent are well known – including reports of contractual breaches, mismanagement, oversight issues, billing issues, customer data safety, and other reported problems,” Taddeo wrote to Lee. “We must perform our oversight function as Senators and ensure that any problems with FDOT, SunPass, and Conduent are brought into the sunshine, so that these problems do not happen again.”

While the vast majority of lawmakers have been silent about the SunPass problems, Taddeo and Lee have been some of the loudest critics.

The Times/Herald reported during this year’s legislative session that the Conduent won the contract under a cloud of suspicion, with two competing companies protesting the state’s decision.

In a highly unusual move, transportation officials paid one of the companies $3.6 million to drop its protest, paving the way for Conduent to win the deal.

After the story ran, Lee sponsored a bill that requires the Department of Transportation to better disclose such settlements. The provision passed.


  1. Sen. Annette Taddeo, D-Miami, speaks during a Senate special session concerning Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' dismissal of Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, Wednesday Oct. 23, 2019, in Tallahassee, Fla. (AP Photo/Steve Cannon) STEVE CANNON  |  AP
    Sen. Annette Taddeo was one of several Democrats across the country who fell victim to the hacks.
  2. The New York Times newspaper on the shelf at the Citrus County Library Lakes Region at 1511 Druid Rd. on Thursday, Nov. 7, 2019 in Inverness. The Citrus County Commison was looking to eliminate the cost of the New York Times digital subscriptions because they say it is "Fake News." A former Mets GM has stepped up and wants to donate money to the Citrus County Libraries to cover the cost of the subscriptions. DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    After Citrus commissioners voted down the digital subscription, library leaders say they cannot accept thousands of dollars from GoFundMe pages.
  3. President Donald Trump is greeted by Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., as Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., looks on, after Trump’s arrival on Air Force One at Miami International Airport in April 2018. PABLO MARTINEZ MONSIVAIS | AP
    Despite rumors, Rubio said he intends to complete his current term, which runs until January 2023.
  4. Lev Parnas leaves his arraignment with his wife, Svetlana Parnas, Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2019 in New York. He and Igor Fruman are charged with conspiracy to make illegal contributions to political committees supporting President Donald Trump and other Republicans. Prosecutors say the pair wanted to use the donations to lobby U.S. politicians to oust the country's ambassador to Ukraine. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan) MARK LENNIHAN  |  AP
    Ballard Partners, a powerhouse firm founded in Tallahassee by Republican lobbyist and Trump confidant Brian Ballard, was subpoenaed along with a South Florida businessman and a fundraiser.
  5. Should we stop changing our clocks twice a year? CHARLES KRUPA  |  AP
    The Republican senator, along with Sen. Rick Scott, introduced the Sunshine Protection Act earlier this year.
  6. Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez. Gov. Ron DeSantis is in the background. [Wilfredo Lee | Associated Press] ASSOCIATED  PRESS
    Florida Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nunez said the mission was productive and companies are already following up on connections they made during their three days in the country.
  7. Marco Rubio
    Rubio’s bill, the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, would sanction Chinese officials involved in undermining ongoing pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong and put the quasi city-state’s special...
  8. Democratic presidential candidates from left, Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., former technology executive Andrew Yang and investor Tom Steyer participate in a Democratic presidential primary debate, Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore) JOHN BAZEMORE  |  AP
    Seventeen candidates remain in the race, but only 10 Democrats qualified to make it on stage in Atlanta for the fifth Democratic debate.
  9. Gov. Ron DeSantis and Barbara Lagoa, who is the first Hispanic nominated by President Donald Trump to be confirmed for a U.S. Court of Appeals vacancy out of 48 judges. Miami Herald
    “Trump’s already had five appointees to the court, it’s already a much more conservative court than before and it might be the second most conservative court in the country,” said one law professor.
  10. Democratic presidential candidate South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg speaks during the Iowa Democratic Party's Liberty and Justice Celebration, Friday, Nov. 1, 2019, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik) NATI HARNIK  |  AP
    The latest Democratic debate, hosted by MSNBC and The Washington Post, will take place amid impeachment hearings in Washington.