While Tallahassee waits for more information from the FBI about their investigation into corruption, on Tuesday the USA Today published an article on their national website detailing the undercover operation. The article entitled “FBI agents went undercover in Florida’s capital for the ‘biggest investigation in years” is accompanied by the picture of three people with blurred faces.
The USA Today has a national circulation of approximately 4 million readers and their Facebook site has over 8 million “likes.”
The front page of USA Today website below.
While the article does not reveal much new information for locals who have been following the story, what the writing of journalist Sean Rossman does do is provide a perspective from retired FBI undercover agent James Wedick who has worked hundreds of public corruption cases at all levels of government.
Wedick told Rossman, “It’s very big. Public corruption is one of the one violations that the bureau is best at handling. We’ve got the money, resources and agents to do it and we’ve got the people that understand the crime.”
Wedick also said that the FBI must have something on Tallahassee to employ an undercover agent for so long. Agents, he said, must prove the worth of their investigation to the U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI national office every six months.
“The fact that it went two years says that, to me, that he had sufficient information in there for them to justify the two-year period, and that’s a pretty high standard.”
The Local Impact of the Investigation
The story in the USA Today hit the same day that local PR executive, Ron Sachs, sent out an electronic survey testing the public’s knowledge of the investigation. One of the questions is shown below. The question below also allowed the respondent to enter individual names.
Sachs said that respondents to the survey were well aware of the investigation and indicated that fallout from the operation could hurt Tallahassee’s brand. These findings come as community leaders try to zero in on a brand that would improve the economic fortunes of Tallahassee.
As the public fall out from the investigation continues to cast a cloud over Tallahassee, at what point do citizens deserve answers from public officials?
It is clear from sources close to the investigation that Mayor Andrew Gillum and City Commissioner Scott Maddox know more than others. How long will Tallahassee have to wait until these elected leaders explain what they know about this two year investigation?