UPDATE: As the two CFO candidates try to make an issue out of the courthouse, it's worth noting that Jeff Atwater voted for the bill and Loranne Ausley voted against it (she acknowledged to the Times that she didn't know the courthouse was in the large bill.) Statement from Jeff Atwater's campaign is below the jump.
On Monday, Alex Sink -- in her role as chief financial officer -- ordered an audit
of the famed "Taj Mahal" courthouse for the First District Court of
Appeals. But the Republican Party of Florida claims Sink's hands aren't
entirely clean, noting that back in 2008 she approved the bonds to pay
for the construction in a unanimous vote on the Cabinet. The party claims that once the bonds were approved, the project became the responsibility of Sink's office.
“It looks like the Florida Democrats have done a pretty good job pointing out the failure of CFO Sink to run her agency and protect tax dollars,” said RPOF Executive Director Ronnie Whitaker.
Sink's campaign spokeswoman Kyra Jennings (who earlier spent time in
the CFO shop) said lawmakers made the public policy decision to spend
the funds on the courthouse and the Cabinet essentially checked to see
if the financing was in order, like it does for numerous other projects.
“Only the governor can veto appropriations by the Legislature,” Jennings said. “Once it gets to the Cabinet, they’re just voting on the financing of a bond.”
As for why Sink only called for an audit now, Jennings said the Department of Management Services approved individual expenditures for the project and didn't raise any red flags. The red flag, she said, was Lucy Morgan's article.
From Jeff Atwater spokesman Brian Hughes:
The record is clear, and Alex Sink confirmed it today with her campaign's statements.
Sink rubber stamps expenditures rather than force the bureaucracy to be accountable to the taxpayers of Florida. Now, her fellow liberal Loranne Ausley tries to point a finger at Jeff Atwater in a feeble attempt to hide Sink's failures. Sink needs to do her job, accept responsibility for her failures, and stop assigning blame where it doesn't belong.
At the end of the day, Sink's signature has been on every state check that has gone to pay for the courthouse construction.
As the next CFO, Jeff Atwater will stand up to the bureaucrats who waste our tax dollars. He won't wait for reporters to call before he does the job of auditing and managing state contracts, and he won't sign the checks until he ensures the taxpayers' investment is protected.