TAMPA, Fla. — The Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority Board unanimously suspended HART CEO Benjamin Limmer with pay Monday morning after a whistleblower complaint.

HART General Counsel David Smith told 10Investigates the whistleblower complaint was “with respect to procurement processes, vendor relations and related matters.”

During Monday morning’s board meeting, Smith said board members had received a letter from the whistleblower Friday evening “alleging improper conduct.”

“The identity of the whistleblower is to remain confidential. It may not be disclosed. We may not do anything or say anything that would indicate the nature or the identity of the whistleblower,” Smith said during the meeting.

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“It is important that you maintain the confidentiality of this process. It is important that you not share this information with anyone that’s not absolutely essential to that process. And it’s important that you keep in mind these are allegations, at this point, unproven. And it’s important that the public realizes that, and the press as well,” Smith told board members during Monday’s meeting.

The Board selected attorney Carolyn House Stewart as the interim CEO of HART until the conclusion of the investigation.

Stewart started working at HART in September 2015 as a Temporary Litigation Counsel and was promoted to Director of Risk and Legal Services in 2019, according to HART Director of Communications Carson Chambers.

The HART Board instructed Stewart to hire a lawyer to conduct an independent investigation of the whistleblower accusations against Limmer.

HART Board Chairman Les Miller told 10Investigates he had no comment at this time about Limmer’s suspension.

10Investigates reached Limmer for comment on the suspension: 

“Since arriving at HART less than a year ago I have worked to build a culture of excellence while assembling a new leadership team that best serves this community. That culture involves honesty, integrity and transparency. So while I have not seen the complaint against me, I welcome and look forward to cooperating fully as I remain committed to HART’s mission, its team, Board and the people it serves and I expect a speedy resolution.”

Correction: An earlier version of this story said Mr. Limmer had been suspended without pay. He was suspended with pay.

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