Fifty-thousand supporters of a sick pay referendum took their best shot Sept. 11 to have the initiative put on the Nov. ballot, but seven Orange County commissioners kept it off.
WESH 2 News uncovered that during the six hours of final debate, Orange County Commissioner Jennifer Thompson and one of the initiative’s biggest opponents, Disney lobbyist Sharon Smoley, exchanged 32 text messages before the final vote.
“Are they just texting away or are they supposed to be listening to the citizens of Orange County?” asked Citizens for a Greater Orange County spokesman Scott Randolph.
The attorney for the sick pay support group is stunned.
Thompson was asked what the conversation was about between her and Smoley.
By phone, Thompson, who has refused to talk on camera, said no official business occurred between her and Smoley.
Disney released a statement Tuesday on the text messages.
“No, Sharon was not doing lobbying business with Commissioner Thompson that day,” according to Walt Disney World spokesman Bryan Malenius.
Smoley said she is a personal friend of Thompson, but that same lobbyist visited all seven commissioners on Aug. 13 and 14.
A county source said that Smoley was there to talk about sick pay.