Tampa, Florida -- Taxpayers could pick up a big bill if Hillsborough County Attorney Renee Lee gets the boot next week. Lee is in hot water following news that she had lunches with former Commissioner Kevin White, who is being sued by the county, and lied about it.
Commissioner Mark Sharpe says he is losing confidence in Lee's abilities to carry out her responsibilities. Sharpe's sentiment seems to be growing. Community Activist Terry Flott of the United Citizen's Action Network says what Lee did is irresponsible, unethical, and unprofessional for an attorney.
Flott sent an e-mail to Commissioners saying, "...have Ms. Lee either fired and immediately relieved of her duties or placed on suspension..."
But Lee's severance calls for a year's salary of $212,721. She would also receive an additional $111,351 in deferred compensation, unused vacation and sick time for a total of $324,078. Flott says the question is: Can the county afford to keep Lee?
Those leading the movement to get rid of the county attorney say if they have to pay her to get her out it is worth it, but they are also hoping to get rid of Lee without costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars. Sharpe says a lot depends on whether there has been a violation of the rules of the Florida Bar.
But unless Lee loses her license to practice law or is found guilty of a crime, the county will have to pay her severance unless it proves there was a flagrant neglect of duty. Flott says she is convinced it is a flagrant disregard of duty, but it is not a slam dunk. Sharpe admits there is a possibility the county will have to pay Lee severance if she is fired.
In addition to the money Lee would get from Hillsborough County, she would collect $60,936 a year for the rest of her life from the Florida Retirement System.
Hillsborough commissioners will take up the Lee issue this coming Thursday, June 2.