Hillsborough commissioners to investigate County Attorney Renee Lee

6:18 PM, May 25, 2011   |    comments
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Hillsborough County Attorney Renee Lee

Tampa, Florida -- The storm clouds are getting darker around Hillsborough County Attorney Renee Lee over her lunch with former Hillsborough Commissioner Kevin White. The county is suing White and some are saying the lunch was inappropriate and Lee may have tried to cover it up.

Commissioner Mark Sharpe says the situation rises to the level where it has to be addressed head on.

When we first reported the story, Lee said she bumped into White while having lunch with a friend, Janee Murphy.

Then Lee sent a text message to White saying, "I saw Deeson's story in the news clips today.  I just want to tell you I did not tell anyone I bumped into you. I decided early on there is no reason to lie."

Read the text messages between Kevin White and Renee Lee (JPG)

However, Hillsborough Commissioner Chair Al Higgenbotham says as he recalls his conversation with Lee, she told him the lunch was happenstance and not a planned meeting.

When we first asked Lee about the lunch, she said she just bumped into White because she was eating with a friend. Commissioner Kevin Beckner says Lee told him the same thing about the lunch, which means the County Attorney appears to be stretching the truth.

Sharpe wants the commission to write a letter to the Florida Bar asking it to review Lee's conduct. He says there is an $8 million legal department upstairs from Commission Chambers, but he can't ask the "how" to proceed, because the issue involves the County Attorney.

Lee says there is no rules violation that says she can't have lunch. When we asked if she thinks it was inappropriate, Lee said no.

However, Sharpe says the County Attorney has lost his confidence in her ability to carry out her responsibilities. If three other commissioners agree, Lee will be out of a job.

Because Wednesday's meeting was a workshop and the Lee issue wasn't on the agenda, no formal action could be taken. Commissioners will deal with the issue at the next regularly scheduled meeting on Thursday, June 2.

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