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Jacksonville, FL (January 12, 2021) – On December 7th, 2020, the Special Investigative Committee of the City Council convened for the last time, wrapping up almost a year’s work looking into and behind the scenes of the events and communication of individuals involved with the JEA Privatization scandal. 

The City Council on October 22, 2019 passed Bill 2019-694 appropriating $1,850,000 from the General Fund to the Professional Services account within the City Council’s budget for the procurement of Special Legislative Counsel for the City Council regarding the issue of the JEA Recapitalization Event. As a result, on December 10, 2020, the City Council passed bill 2019-898 approving the engagement agreement with the Law firm of Smith, Hulsey & Busey (SHB) as Special Private Counsel to the City Council on Matters related to the Future of JEA. By passage of these bills, two groups were created 1) A workshop, led by CM Michael Boylan on The Future of JEA, to be an educational and information gathering process to understand the opportunities and issues surrounding JEA and 2) the Special Investigative Committee, led by CM Rory Diamond to hold proceedings and inquiries into the events, individuals and issues that caused such controversy. Both groups began to convene in the early part of 2020.

 “It’s important that my constituents have access to The Final Report of the Smith Hulsey & Busey Law Firm which has been produced as a result of month-long efforts by City Council to investigate the JEA Recapitalization,” Council Member Becton stated. “These documents have been created based on hundred of hours of investigative meetings, interviews and information gathering, so that the events that transpired are in the sunshine.”

 As reported by the Florida Times Union, “The report, authored by attorneys with Jacksonville Law Firm Smith Hulsey & Busey, made no definitive conclusions about whether anyone involved at the city or JEA broke laws, but the lawyers wrote that JEA executives made “material;” and “intentional” omissions and misleading statements to the board of directors – terms that, in legal settings, are sometimes elements of civil and criminal fraud cases.”

By Tiziana Onstead, District 11 Executive Council Assistant