A former Florida state official has bee cleared of charges that he improperly used his influence to award a controversial grant for a space tourism training center that he subsequently headed up. PNJ.com reports:
An administrative law judge dismissed charges alleging Brice Harris used his position at the Office of Tourism, Trade and Economic Development to secure $500,000 grant for Andrews [Institute], and then took a $150,000-a-year job at the sports medicine clinic.
Judge Diane Cleavinger said there was not enough evidence to prove that Harris’ employment with Andrews violated ethics laws because his employment with OTTED did not substantially or significantly contribute to the funding or creation of Project Odyssey.
The editors of the Pensacola News Journal have praised Dr. Joe Story, the outgoing chief innovation officer for the Andrews Institute for Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine, for his vision and drive in building up the sports medicine clinic. They did acknowledge that a scandal over the institute’s space tourism program has tarnished his reputation.
Ethics Probe Lost in Space
Pensacola News Journal Editorial
Last week, Pensacolian Brice Harris abruptly resigned as director of Project Odyssey, a space-tourism program run out of Gulf Breeze’s Andrews Institute. In a report released April 7, the governor’s own inspector general concluded that Harris was heavily involved in setting up the project while still with the state’s economic development department. Then â€” surprise! â€” he became the project’s director at a cool $150,000 annually. Good work, if you can get it, but apparently an ethical no-no.
Andrews project probed: Crist seeks inquiry into Project Odyssey director at institute
Pensacola News Journal
Gov. Charlie Crist has asked for an inspector general’s inquiry to see if the director of a new space-tourism medical program at the Andrews Institute got his job after setting up the $500,000 in state grants to create it.