By Sharon Calvert, From Eye on Tampa Bay
There are two appeals that have been made to the Florida Supreme Court related to the All for Transportation $16 Billion transit tax, so who is paying for All for Transportation’s mounting legal costs?
Judge Rex Barbas’ final ruling on July 9th threw out all of All for Transportation’s mandated spending allocations and spending constraints as illegal and unlawful. The judge also threw out the unconstitutional authority All for Transportation gave to their Independent Oversight Committee.
While Barbas threw out most of the All for Transportation (AFT) transit tax charter amendment, he left the tax itself standing. Barbas left the tax standing by apparently claiming voters just voted for the tax regardless of what it was to fund.
In his ruling, Barbas corrected a number of legal defects with All for Transportation’s transit tax. However, there still may be defects that need resolving.
Barbas’ final ruling allowed any appeals to proceed.
The lawyers for the All for Transportation (AFT) class action lawsuit appealed Judge Barbas’ ruling to the Florida Supreme Court on Thursday.
And Commissioner White filed an appeal yesterday morning.
All for Transportation (AFT) immediately released this statement after the first appeal was filed. AFT says they will fight the appeal all the way to the Florida Supreme Court and are considering their own appeal.
As we posted here, AFT hired a couple of big gun lawyers, Barry Richard and Ben Hill, last December after White filed his lawsuit. AFT hired these lawyers to represent both the AFT PAC and AFT’s connected nonprofit Keep Hillsborough Moving, Inc. Richard concentrates on appellate law and we can reasonably assume he will be representing AFT in the appeal process.
The statement released above was from the All for Transportation PAC, not its Keep Hillsborough Moving, Inc. nonprofit.
So who is paying AFT’s legal expenses? AFT does not list any expenditures for legal services in their campaign filing reports.
According to All for Transportation’s campaign filings on the Supervisor of Elections website**, the last contribution to the AFT PAC was $85K from Jeff Vinik’s investment firm, American Investment Holdings. That contribution was made on December 18, 2018 right after White filed his lawsuit.
Since Vinik’s $85K contribution, the AFT PAC has not received any further contributions.
Is AFT’s connected nonprofit Keep Hillsborough Moving, Inc. paying the high-priced lawyers? The nonprofit is dark money and we do not know who its donors are or what their expenditures are. A nonprofit is not required to disclose their donors or expenditures as PAC’s are required to do.
Is AFT’s largest donor Jeff Vinik, whose associated entities sunk over $800K into AFT’s campaign coffers, paying their legal expenses? Are any of the other AFT wealthy special interests donors paying AFT’s legal expenses?
We do know that White is receiving pro bono services. Is AFT receiving pro bono legal services?
The public does not know who’s paying AFT’s legal expenses and AFT is not required to disclose such information.
But AFT’s legal costs could be very substantial fighting two appeals, and even more costly if they file their own appeal.
It is ironic that whoever is now funding AFT’s legal expenses must not have thought AFT needed to pay for any legal services or legal vetting from the start.
It is astounding to think that whoever is now funding AFT’s legal expenses did not ensure AFT crafted a 30-year, $16 Billion transit tax charter amendment that was legally and lawfully sound.
Whoever is now funding AFT’s legal services must have some serious skin in the game regarding the AFT transit tax, because whoever is now paying AFT’s legal expenses must have the resources to pay mounting legal costs.
**All For Transportation’s campaign filings are found on the Supervisor of Elections website by selecting Political Committees from the drop down box and then selecting All for Transportation.