Homeland Security reviews PSTA grant spending

Clearwater, Florida -- The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority is under fire for the way it is spending a grant from the Department of Homeland Security for making buses safer.

10 Investigates first reported in June about questions being raised regarding TV ads the agency is running and now DHS is conducting a full investigation into PSTA.

Last month, PSTA Executive Director Brad Miller told us, "I feel very comfortable how the money was used and would welcome any kind of review of that."

WATCH: Miller defends grant spending

And now Miller will get that review he's welcomed. Rep. David Jolly, R-St. Petersburg, says, "It is very important it be looked at."

After hearing complaints from critics, Jolly asked Homeland Security if PSTA improperly spent hundreds of thousands of dollars of a federal grant intended to educate the public about preventing bus bombings from terrorist.

As 10 Investigates reported, instead of warning the public, the TV spots are a feel good campaign for PSTA. Critics say the spots are serving as a front to persuade voters to pass the transportation tax, Greenlight Pinellas.

BACKGROUND: Report on PSTA spending

However, the day after the story ran, Miller blasted the report and told his board, "I've circled what Homeland Security approved those funds be used for. A mass media campaign to further promote security issues related to public transportation which is what those ads do."

Critics say Miller is wrong and the ads don't do anything of the sort and Jolly says Homeland Security never saw the spots.

According to the Jolly, "The investigation now will be to request the collateral material used by PSTA . It will be reviewed against the guidelines of the grant program and ultimately determine whether it is in compliance with the grant award."

RELATED: State senator calls for review

And Jolly says he believes both Homeland Security and PSTA dropped the ball by not having the material reviewed before it hit the airwaves. "You open yourself up to incidents like this. At the end of the day our community should not have to question whether taxpayer money is being used correctly," Jolly said.


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