Consultant challenges subpoenas in JEA investigation

Attorney for Tim Baker calls subpoenas ‘unconstitutional intrusion’

Tim Baker, Mayor Lenny Curry and Brian Hughes (Photo by Fran Ruchalski/Daily Record)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – One of Mayor Lenny Curry’s former campaign advisors is taking aim at the Jacksonville City Council committee looking into the aborted sale of JEA.

Political consultant Tim Baker, who worked on Curry’s election campaign, is firing back at the Council committee because of a subpoena that was issued to force him to answer questions over the since-shelved plan to put the city-owned utility up for sale.

The committee chaired by Councilwoman Brenda Priestly Jackson, which includes Council President Tommy Hazouri and Councilwoman Randy DeFoor, wants information about Baker’s role as a consultant for Florida Power & light, which was the top bidder to buy JEA.

Caving to public outcry, JEA’s board of directors withdrew the Invitation to Negotiate, or ITN, in December 2019. The fallout from the sale and a controversial bonus plan led to the departures of several high-level executives, including then-CEO Aaron Zahn and his temporary successor, Melissa Dykes.

Baker recently answered some questions about his involvement but refused to discuss his work as a consultant for FPL, saying that information is privileged. The committee does not believe that’s the case.

Attorney Thomas Bishop, who represents Baker, told the city general counsel’s office Monday that it is troubling the committee is asking his client for information that could be obtained elsewhere.

In an email, Bishop called the subpoena unlawful and said his client objects because the information the committee seeks is protected by the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution.

“The City Council should either withdraw or decline to enforce these patently unlawful and invalid subpoenas. If the City proceeds with enforcement of these subpoenas, Mr. Baker will be left with no choice but to seek protection from this unconstitutional intrusion in the courts,” Bishop wrote.

Below is a PDF version of Bishop’s letter:

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