Hurricane Michael carved a path of horror and destruction from Florida’s “Emerald Coast” and Big Bend regions north through several Deep South states. The path of destruction has rescue, utility, and cleanup efforts going around the clock to help people put their lives back in order. But, even as thousands along Florida’s coast are still picking up the pieces, at least one government employee has a yard completely free of downed trees and debris… a yard located not in Florida, but across the state line in Georgia.
Both of these factors are now at play in an investigation that has Kelly Scott, the director of administrative services for the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DMV), facing serious allegations of misuse of state resources.
According allegations from anonymous sources within the department, Scott ordered Florida cleanup crews under her auspices to head north to her property in Georgia, not once but twice, to remove downed trees and otherwise tidy up the storm damage in her yard, a property which is, according to various media reports, conspicuously clean among other damaged homes in her neighborhood.
The most-reported version of the story is that state employees arrived at Scott’s home, again, across the state line in Georgia, started to work, then were ordered to come back into the state by another department official. This scenario played itself out exactly the same way on the following day.
Now, the Inspector General is investigating these allegations, and the media is all over the story. The news reflects poorly both on Scott, personally, and it plays as yet another example of a power drunk government official who put their needs ahead of those in much more dire circumstances. That aspect of the story is what has most people the angriest. There’s little doubt the need along the coast in Florida is drastic and extreme, much more so than a few downed trees. Voters see a state official redirecting resources to her own property as an affront and a betrayal of those in much more desperate need. They want answers… and more than a few are calling for Kelly’ job.
At this point, that hasn’t happened. Initially, the department has issued no statement at all, as of this writing, other than to say it can’t release specific information to the press due to the ongoing investigation.
When they could not get the department to respond, the press went up the chain to the governor. Governor Scott’s office offered this terse response: “We have absolutely no tolerance for any misuse of state resources…”
While the statement places no blame, the governor is in a hotly-contested senate race, and, with election day essentially here, he can’t afford to be seen as inactive or ineffective on government corruption.
As it stands, the relative lack of response from officials is not sitting well with voters who, based on what’s been reported in the press, expect Something To Be Done, and something to be done quickly. Meanwhile, for Kelley Scott, a week ago most Floridians didn’t know her name. Now, right or wrong, they see her as the official her put her personal comfort over the safety of thousands of Floridians.