The legal scandal at Central Florida’s toll agency is already spilling into an Orange County Commission race.
A day after a board member of the Orlando Orange County Expressway Authority was charged with bribery, Eatonville City Council member Alvin Moore asked his opponent state Rep. Bryan Nelson, R-Apopka, to return donations tied to the indicted political ally.
Moore said Nelson should give back all campaign contributions from indicted toll agency board member Scott Batterson and his associates
“It’s bad enough that Nelson backs a U-Haul truck up to the Capital to bring Tallahassee special interest money back to Orange County, but for him to keep Batterson’s tainted money doesn’t pass the smell test,” Moore said in a statement.
Nelson countered that he’s leading the charge on legislation that would create a regional toll agency, which includes tough ethics standards. Given that, and the fact that Batterson has not been convicted, Nelson said he would not be returning the donations.
Batterson gave a $250 check to Nelson, while his employer, IBI Group of Maitland gave another $250. IBI worked on Kelly Park Crossing, a huge Apopka-area development tied to attorney Jim Palmer. Nelson had received a $500 check from Palmer, another from his firm, and a third from a related company.
If Batterson or others tied to him are found guilty of a crime, their checks would be returned, Nelson said.
“I’m the one running the expressway bill in the House,” Nelson said, noting its ethics provisions are “one of the toughest packages ever.”
Trying to connect his donations to the legal scandal at the toll agency “was a stretch,” Nelson said.
Nelson responded Friday before making his farewell remarks in Tallahassee. The term-limited insurance agent is taking on Moore and other lesser-known candidates for a District 2 seat being vacated by Commissioner Fred Brummer, another former state lawmaker.
Among the others in the race, so far: Bridgett Y. Sykes, Prince Brown, Gregory Allen Jackson.Patricia Rumph is the only candidate to already qualify for the fall ballot by collecting petitions.