Precourt dodges WFTV's questions between Expressway Authority interviews

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ORLANDO, Fla. —

The man considered the top candidate to run the Expressway Authority was hesitant to make his case to WFTV and toll payers about why he should be hired, according to Channel 9's Kathi Belich.

Belich caught up with State Rep. Steve Precourt Monday in between his interviews with board members; she said he dodged her questions.

Belich said Precourt most likely already has three board members' votes, a majority, but they are under investigation for a possible Sunshine Law violation.

And a new state ethics law prohibits Precourt from lobbying the legislature, which is why supporters said they want him, Belich said.

Precourt doesn't meet the board's minimum requirement of managing highway operations for at least eight years and when Belich asked why he should get the job anyway, Precourt wouldn't answer.

"I don't want to cause any problems," said Precourt. "It would be discourteous to those who are interviewing me."

"So you'll talk to us when you leave then?" asked Belich.

"I absolutely will do what the Expressway Authority wants me to," said Precourt.

Critics believe Precourt is sidestepping the spirit of a new ethics law he helped pass that prohibits lawmakers from taking jobs offered to gain advantage from their connections, including jobs for which they don't qualify.

"I'm a transportation planner, traffic engineer, having experience with expressways and economic development programs because this is about much more than transportation. It's about the economy. This is a jobs generator," he later told Belich.

The job the agency could generate for him would bump Precourt's income and retirement benefits from his $30,000 lawmaker's pay and his consulting business.

Toll payers would likely pay him more than $200,000 a year.

But Precourt said it's not about the money and that he wants to help the community.

The board is expected to hire a candidate on Tuesday.