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Conflict of interest clouds renaming of Corrine Brown regional transportation center

What is to be done when a city names a facility after a convicted former member of Congress? In the case of Gainesville and the Corrine Brown Regional Transit Facility, the answer — thus far — has been to do nothing.

The Associated Press reported that the Gainesville City Commission opted to defer action last week on the move.

That deferral gives the appearance of prudence and thoughtfulness, while offering an opportunity for a closer look at how the Congresswoman built relationships in Gainesville via what could be called “transactional money.”

One Gainesville City Commissioner has asserted he has no “conflict of interest” when it comes to a vote to rename the Corrine Brown Regional Transportation Center. However, there are 2,539 reasons to think otherwise.

Specifically: $2,539 spent between 2013 and 2015 by “Friends of Corrine Brown” at a clothing store owned by the wife of Gainesville City Commissioner Harvey Budd. The money supposedly was spent on clothes for Florida Gators football games; however, a number of the purchase dates were outside of Gator football season.

Gainesville City Commissioner Budd signed a Personal Guarantee on the lease for the business. Budd is also the treasurer, director, and VP of the company that collected thousands of dollars from Brown’s political donors, via the pass-through of her campaign account.

Budd has asserted that he has no conflict of interest in a potential vote on the renaming of the regional transportation center, despite a demonstrated pattern of “campaign materials” and “gifts for supporters” being bought by Corrine Brown from Ilene’s for Fashion.

Among notable items sold at Ilene’s for Fashion: Gators’ gear made from Swarovski crystals (an interesting campaign material) and other designer items that would seem to be high-markup gear with little to do with GOTV efforts and the like.

As Brown’s trial in Jacksonville showed, the Congresswoman liked to spend money at high-end stores. Though Gainesville transactions did not factor into testimony, what was clear was that she spent money in Gator Country, just as she did everywhere else.

Written By

A.G. Gancarski has been a working journalist for over two decades. Gancarski has been a correspondent for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." He can be reached at a.g.gancarski@gmail.com.

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