WFTV confronts governor on Expressway Board member indictment



ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - On Friday Channel 9's Kathi Belich asked Florida Gov. Rick Scott about Thursday's indictment of Orlando-Orange County Expressway Authority Board member Scott Batterson by a grand jury.
Batterson is charged with one count of bribery and two counts of unlawful compensation. All three are felony charges. He bonded out of the Seminole County Jail shortly after turning himself in Thursday evening.
Scott suspended Batterson shortly after the indictments were made public.
Belich asked Scott why he didn't demand Batterson's resignation.
Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs called for Batterson's removal from the board earlier this year because of his behavior during board meetings.
Now Batterson is accused of illegally using his position at the authority to benefit himself or someone else.  
Scott appointed Batterson to the Expressway Board three years ago.
"The indictment is disappointing. Public officials should be held to higher standards. I did the right thing," said Scott.
Batterson's appointment in 2011 was met with criticism over concerns about his possible business conflicts with the agency.  Business conflicts are at the center of his indictment.
A source told Channel 9 that these types of charges could mean toll agency work was offered to a contractor with the caveat that the contractor hires specific subcontractors.   
Batterson, whose term ends next year, was vice-chairman of the Expressway Board and was looking to become chairman.
He, along with board members Marco Pena and Noranne Downs, the Florida Department of Transportation district secretary, are still under investigation for a possible Florida Sunshine Law violation over allegations they might have secretly plotted last year to replace the Expressway Authority director with Florida Rep. Steve Precourt.
Scott can appoint someone to take Batterson's place on the board, but that might become a moot point, depending on what the Florida Legislature does next month.
State Sen. Davie Simons said the Florida House and Senate are close to compromise on a bill that would create a regional toll agency.
Scott, who is said to support the idea, wouldn't commit to the idea when asked by Belich on Friday.
"It hasn't gotten to my desk yet. When it gets to my desk I'll review it," Scott said.
If a regional toll agency is created those on the board who were appointed by Scott -- Batterson, Pena and board chairman Walter Ketcham -- would lose their seats.
The governor would select new appointees.