TAMPA BAY, Fla. -- Despite promises to finally send months of toll-by-plate invoices to tens of thousands of Floridians in October, the state has decided to delay those invoices until after the November 6 election.
The state’s failed SunPass upgrade in June left hundreds of thousands of drivers with unexpected and sometimes inexplicable charges on their accounts.
But nearly a million SunPass account holders pay via the toll-by-plate (TBP) option, which has not processed invoices in nearly five months.
While initial billing delays and mistakes appear to have been a result of contractor and FDOT failures, the state has refused to tell 10Investigates if it was unable to send TBP invoices in October, as previously promised, or it just chose to wait until after the election.
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Governor Scott, who oversees FDOT and the Florida Turnpike Enterprise, has less than three weeks left to make his closing argument in a tight battle in a tight Senate race with Democratic Senator Bill Nelson.
Despite the delay in sending customers their TBP invoices, the state announced Friday it still would make customers pay off their five months of backlogged charges by February 28, a period of less than four months from when they receive the bills.
When the plan was to mail four months of backlogged bills in October, FDOT originally said customers would have nearly six months to pay off their invoices.
The state is continuing to waive all fines and penalties and its press release Friday said it would continue to - at least for TBP customers - until Feb. 28.
FDOT says toll invoice payments can be made any time prior to customers receiving their invoices by calling the SunPass Customer Service Center at 1-888-TOLL-FLA(1-888-865-5352) or by visiting a SunPass Walk-in Center (visit SunPass.com for locations).
Gov Scott's ties to troubled contractor
10Investigates first reported in July how Conduent's founder and one of its top lobbyists were both raising funds for Scott's Senate campaign. At the time, the governor indicated he was satisfied with FDOT's handling of the crisis, despite its growing billing and customer service problems.
Friday, the Tampa Bay Times reported additional financial ties between Scott and Conduent. The governor's federal campaign disclosures indicate he and his wife have millions of dollars invested with a hedge fund, Highline Capital Investment, that owns $127 million in Conduent stock.
10Investigates also found the governor and his wife have millions more invested with Engine Capital Management, a fund which also invests in Conduent stock.
"Anybody who wants to contribute to...this race knows exactly what I stand for and what I'm going to do," Scott told 10Investigates this summer, dismissing any allegations of favorable treatment for Conduent. "I don't work for special interests (and) I'm doing everything I can to make sure there's no conflicts of interests.
"I don't take a salary...I pay my own way to fly around the state (and) I put my assets in a blind trust. Other people aren't doing this."
If you are a Florida driver with concerns or problems related to SunPass disruptions, contact 10Investigates’ Noah Pransky confidentially at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or join the ongoing SunPass conversation on his Facebook page. And let him know who you think should be held accountable.
►To reach SunPass customer service, call 1-888-865-5352 or click here.