Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam revealed Tuesday that his office has uncovered two companies trying to defraud taxpayers of millions of dollars in energy grant money. Putnam called for an audit of the Office of Energy, after the Legislature last year placed the office under his purview.
Putnam blames past administrations, especially the Crist administration, for the mismanagement of funds and absence of leadership, which he says led to the stolen $2.5 million.
“It is a larger issue than just the previous administration, but all the money showed up under the previous administration. So, that’s what exacerbated the absence of leadership," said Putnam. "I mean you can cover up a lot of sins, when they were only managing several million dollars. When they got $200-million, suddenly, the stakes were much higher and the risks were much greater, but the management philosophy hadn’t changed.”
Because the FBI and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement are currently investigating the issue, the names of the companies are not available at this time. The Office of Energy manages several grant and solar rebate programs that funds about 220-million dollars to different Florida energy projects.