Wauchula, Florida -- The Hardee County Industrial Development Authority is ignoring the recommendation of a grand jury, which says the agency wasted $7 million of public money.
Tuesday, Travis Bond, whose company has received more than $7 million from Hardee is on the defense as he tried to explain the grand jury report saying it turned into a disaster for the county with no tangible results.
After Bond explained how great his company was doing with the money it received, taxpayers like Rhonda Cole told the agency it was true, "The point is we spent 7 and half million dollars in the contract and none of the promises came true."
But the Hardee Industrial Development Authority, which handed out the money to Bond and powerful politicians including Tampa Rep. Jamie Grant, defended its practices. The IDA ignored the recommendation to fire director Bill Lambert who the grand jury said was like the fox protecting the hen house so individuals involved were living large off Hardee County's money
Lambert disagrees saying, "Mike, listen to me. We are very proud of the development of the company we have almost 40 employees and a million dollars and were are expecting it to advance, thank you for letting me speak."
When we said to Lambert, "But what about the grand jury, the state attorney and the auditor general, they said just the opposite?"
Lambert replied, "They have a very unilateral approach. There are two sides to every story, you will hear our story over time, thank you."
Many taxpayers also blame Lambert.
Robert Cole told the IDA board, "You know that grand jury said get rid of Bill Lambert. You are avoiding that."
No doubt that's true as instead firing its director, the agency gave him a vote of confidence to continue despite the grand jury finding millions were wasted under his watch.