Two Milton businessmen are charged in an ethics complaint filed by former Mayor Guy Thompson with attempting to manipulate road construction for personal gain.
Mack Thetford and Vernon Compton sat on different committees in September 2014 serving in an advisory capacity to the Florida-Alabama Transportation Planning Organization, the complaint said.
The two men are business partners, the complaint said.
Each used their committee seat to advocate for what is termed a “South route” for U.S. Highway 90 to take when the road is expanded through Milton, the complaint said. It also states both had control of property near where the “South route” would run.
“This was an attempt by two individuals who own and control property in an area they wished to see a highway enhance their property for personal gain,” Thompson’s complaint alleges.
Both men succeeded in getting the “South route” considered and discussed by the TPO as an option, the complaint alleges.
This happened even though the Florida Department of Transportation had already decided against expanding U.S. 90 in that direction.
The efforts of Thetford and Compton were ultimately thwarted by the TPO, which rejected recommendations by both men’s committees, the complaint said.
The complaint, filed in late August, states on Sept. 9, 2014, Thetford, as a member of the Bicycle Pedestrian Committee convinced fellow committee members to vote in favor of asking the TPO to consider advancing the South Route as an alternative for U.S. 90 expansion.
He did so without disclosing “that he owned and controlled property along and in the area,” the complaint said.
The day before Compton had secured passage through his committee, the Citizens Advisory Committee, of a request to add the South route to the TPO agenda.
“He never disclosed that he owned and controlled property along and near the South route,” Thompson’s ethics complaint said. “The committee members to my knowledge never knew this either.”
Thompson, who was the mayor of Milton for 20 years, was serving on Florida-Alabama Transportation Planning Organization at the time he alleges Compton and Thetford were attempting to manipulate the agency.
Thetford confirmed receiving the complaint late Tuesday after the press time. He said the Florida Commission on Ethics had informed him and a recommendation in the matter would be made in “two to three weeks.”
“At this point it is simply a complaint filed by Mr. Thompson,” he said. “This is a confidential process and it would be inappropriate to discuss the matter.”
Compton confirmed the ethics commission made a confidentiality request and said he would like to honor that request at this time. Although he did say he would be available to discuss the matter after the issue was resolved.
The expansion of U.S. 90 through Milton remains controversial.
About 100 people showed up at a September 1st meeting at which FDOT officials presented four proposed routes for widening or enhancing the road.
Thetford and Compton are active with many non-profit organizations with ties to Milton.
Thetford serves on the Blackwater River Foundation and the Santa Rosa Historical Society.
Compton is active with Main Street Milton, the Blackwater Heritage Trail and the Santa Rosa Historical Society.
Thetford and Compton are listed in state records as managers of a limited liability corporation called Mill Town Renaissance.