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City leaders discuss interviewing key witnesses in attempted JEA sale

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Members of the Jacksonville City Council spoke virtually Monday night on whether to subpoena key witnesses in the attempted sale of the city-owned utility, JEA.

There are three outstanding witnesses that the committee would like to talk to, who might not testify unless they’re compelled to by subpoena. They include Sam Mousa, the city’s former chief administrative officer, Tim Baker, who has consulted for Mayor Lenny Curry and replaced Mousa as CAO, and Alan Howard, a former JEA board member.

“Our job isn’t to represent these people in a criminal defense matter,” said City Councilman Randy DeFoor. “That’s not our job. Our job is to follow the charge and the only way we’re going to get in the crosshairs of federal investigators is if one of these witnesses becomes their witness.”

One issue that the committee is running into is the looming federal investigation into the sale of JEA. It’s why the city’s top attorney is warning against subpoenaing these witnesses.

“Across the board, when it comes to sworn testimony, it’s my professional judgment this committee should be very careful in that terrain because it runs the possibility of interfering with any grand jury or federal investigation,” said General Counsel Jason Gabriel.

That warning frustrated Councilwoman Randy DeFoor who said that if the City Council can’t use the power of a court order, the City Council can’t do much in determining what went wrong with the attempted sale of JEA.

“No one’s going to come talk to us any more,” DeFoor said. “I mean, I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t come. I’d get an attorney and say, no. I think maybe we should consider wrapping it up. Someone explain to me what we got going left.”

No decision was made Monday night, but council members said they want to hear from the public.

The committee’s next meeting on the issue is July 27.


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