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Florida DMV director calls hurricane clean-up claims 'serious and troubling'

TerryLRhodes-MediumThe state's Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles issued a statement Friday night after an anonymous complaint alleged a top state official misused state resources after Hurricane Michael. 

The page-long complaint says Kelley Scott, the department’s $120,000-a-year director of administrative service, ordered three department employees to drive a “disaster recovery trailer” to her Georgia home — nearly an hour away from state offices in Tallahassee. The trailer was loaded with chainsaws, tarps and generators, and Scott wanted the state workers to clear trees and connect a generator to her well pump, according to the complaint.

Despite denying a request for an interview from the Miami Herald, Terry Rhodes, executive director of the DHSMV, sent out a mass statement calling the internal investigation a "top priority."

"I saw the destruction after the storm firsthand, and understand completely that these allegations are incredibly serious and troubling," she wrote. "A thorough investigation allows all facts to be presented and I will ensure complete accountability upon the conclusion of the investigation." 

 

As director of the DHSMV, Rhodes reports directly to the governor and cabinet. 

Jimmy Patronis, the state's chief financial officer and cabinet member, said his focus is always to ensure the DHSMV serves taxpayers well. 

"Any allegation that resources were diverted from those who needed it, must be taken seriously," Patronis' spokeswoman, Anna Alexopoulos Farrar, wrote in a statement. "We look forward to Director Rhodes’ detailed explanation, and the CFO is confident that the director will take swift action on this issue." 

The DHSMV is refusing to release public records that could confirm or refute the allegations citing the active investigation. It also declined to make Scott available for an interview. The Miami Herald requested emails and text messages from Scott’s work accounts, but was told they could not be released.

The department also declined to say if Scott — a high-ranking official who reports to Rhodes — remains actively employed during the investigation. Scott was at work Wednesday morning, Herald reporters confirmed. 

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