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Bay District Schools Superintendent 'shocked' to be named in FBI affidavit

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Bay District Schools' Superintendent Bill Husfelt speaking at a press conference in August 2021 about the district's COVID-19 protocols.

Bay District Schools Superintendent Bill Husfelt denies that a local contractor under investigation by the FBI did work on any of his properties after Hurricane Michael.

On Thursday, the Panama City News Herald reported that an affidavit in an ongoing federal investigation into the misuse of Hurricane Michael recovery dollars had been unsealed in federal court.

The News Herald reports that investigators say in the affidavit that GAC Contractors Inc., led by former Florida House Speaker Allan Bense, did not perform work on public property that the company was paid to complete. Instead, GAC's executives allegedly ordered its workers to clean up properties owned by elected officials, including Bense, Husfelt and state Sen. George Gainer.

Hours after news of the affidavit broke, Husfelt held a press conference at the school board office to clear his name of any wrongdoing. "I saw the story," he said. "I was shocked. I couldn't understand why it said what it said."

With the news contained in the affidavit coming to light, reporters asked him to speculate on what's related to it. "I think this has something to do with bigger things than me," he said. "I'm a little fish in all of this.

Husfelt learned of the allegations on an important day for him: his birthday. "I turn sixty-four today," Husfelt said. "And I don’t want the community or the citizens to think that I did this. I’m standing here pleading with people to believe me."

Husfelt says GAC's workers never performed cleanup work or debris removal on his home or rental properties. "They never stepped foot on my property."

He also denies any knowledge of GAC equipment sitting immobile on school property, as the affidavit reportedly states.

Husfelt admitted to being friends with Derwin White, who pleaded guilty in the federal public corruption case before he died last summer. However, he says White never asked him to break the law, and the school district has paid for all the work done on its property.

"He never asked me to do anything immoral, illegal or unethical."

Husfelt also claims to have receipts for the work that was done on his properties after the hurricane. He says he won't publicly release those, but he's willing to hand them over to the FBI.

"I’m depending on the legal system and the people in power to do what they have to do, and the truth will come out."

Valerie Crowder hosts and produces state and local newscasts during All Things Considered. Her reporting on local government and politics has received state and regional award recognition. She has also contributed stories to NPR newscasts.