The FBI has opened an investigation into the office of former Hillsborough Supervisor of Elections Buddy Johnson, hauling away documents related to a blistering audit that revealed Johnson had overspent his budget by almost $1 million.
Phyllis Busansky, who defeated Johnson in November, said a subpoena was served Wednesday on the office of Tampa accountants Ernst & Young, whose audit was highly critical of the way Johnson handled tax money during his last year in office.
Busansky said she called Ernst & Young to inquire about a second audit she wants done and was told by executive director John DiSanto that another audit might be difficult, since "the FBI just came and took away all our working papers."
The audit released last week revealed that Johnson broke Florida law by overspending his 2007-2008 budget by $942,022. The audit also said Johnson handled grant money improperly and failed to establish appropriate procedures to monitor finances.
It isn't clear what happened to the $1 million Johnson spent that he didn't have or to the $2.1 million that should have been used to pay Premier [Election Solutions, whom Johnson contracted to provide election equipment and from whom he has subsequently sought employment].
But in the run-up to the election, Johnson authorized the expenditure of $2.5 million in tax money to pay for a blizzard of TV spots, radio ads and printed literature for "voter education," according to records reviewed by the St. Petersburg Times.
Johnson has been a bit of - to put it kindly - "local colour" on the Tampa Bay political scene for a while now. Good to see his misdeeds are finally getting the attention they deserve.