The head of the local government agency that has created the Greenlight Pinellas plan and its tax hike proposal has been caught in a conspiracy to defraud the U.S. Government. On August 1, PSTA head Brad Miller, (the head of the Greenlight Pinellas plan) was forced to return $354,000 in federal funds that were designed to stop bus bombings but were instead used to promote the Greenlight Pinellas campaign. At the time PSTA Board Chair and County Commissioner Ken Welch described the misuse of funds as a mere mistake. However, emails obtained by WTSP reporter Mike Deeson demonstrates an intentional plan to use the security grant money primarily to promote Greenlight Pinellas as the agency’s “#1 priority”.
In May, the Sunbeam Times reported on the abuse initially after our investigation found that the money was being used for the Greenlight campaign. the DHS money was designed to warn passengers to be on the lookout for items that may be bombs, like empty backpacks. Instead, the money was used to create feel good ads of happy bus riders and then to promote Greenlight Pinellas. WTSP’s Mike Deeson picked up the story and continued to follow the trail (the full Greenlight/DHS grant abuse saga is described here). The joint investigation led to the return of the money when Congressman David Jolly ensured the Department of Homeland Security was following up on the complaint filed by Sunbeam Times founder Dr. David McKalip. Calls for the resignation of Mr. Miller, and the chair of the PSTA Board Ken Welch were rebuffed and appeared to describe the incident as a mere honest mistake and insisted it was designed to help the Greenlight campaign. Mr. Deeson has now found the smoking gun that it was always about promoting the Greenlight Pinellas plan and that there was intentional abuse of the grant. It shows that Miller was lying about the conspiracy later on to deny these claims.
The PSTA board is meeting on 10/22, Wednesday morning at 9. Now would be a good time to show up and demand accountability for Brad Miller. He must resign. Voters should reject Greenlight based on the depth of corruption and mismangement at the PSTA.
The meeting is at 3201 Scherer Drive, St. Petersburg, FL .
Mr. Deeson obtained 79 pages of internal emails from the Greenlight agency (PSTA) showing that Mr. Miller was demanding that the main focus of the campaign should be to promote Greenlight Pinellas. His comments in the June 27, 2013 email to PSTA staffers Cassandra Borchers and Janet Recca were all caps and in purple and are reproduced as such. When advised that the grant was designed to promote security, he contemptuously referred to “YOUR BELOVED SECURITY” when finalizing the campaign with internal staffers. The ad agency indicated that they were concerned about bringing the Greenlight component into the security grant-funded ad and would prompt inquires to the Department of Homeland security about appropriate use. To this, Greenlight head Brad Miller stated “I DO NOT CARE WHAT THE AD AGENCY THINKS” (about potential misuse of DHS funds). He then clearly spells out his goal for this money: “I MAINTAIN A STRONG COMMITMENT TO DOING EVERYTHING I CAN TO COMMUNICATE TO THE PINELLAS CITIZENS THE BENEFITS OF THE GREENLIGHT PINELLAS PLAN. THAT IS OUR AGENCY’S OUTREACH EFFORTS #1 PRIORITY.” Clearly the top priority of Brad Miller and PSTA is promoting Greenlight Pinellas, even if it is at the expense of allowing bombings of buses by terrorists.
When this matter was first brought to the Greenlight agency, Mr. Miller stated the ads were appropriate. He and Commissioner Welch then described those pointing out the problems as spreading misinformation. When they finally admitted a “mistake” and returned the money, they then stated it had nothing to do with Greenlight. Mr. Welch famously tried to reassure the PSTA board to “Keep Calm and support Greenlight Pinellas”. Welch and Miller refused to resign and the PSTA/Greenlight board voted to support him as their CEO. Now that the trail of lies and an intentional conspiracy to abuse federal funds has been uncovered, will the PSTA board still support both Welch and Miller? More importantly, will voters realize that the PSTA board can’t be trusted with the highest sales tax in the state and a 300% revenue increase for the Greenlight Pinellas $2.4 billion rail boondoggle and vote no?