There’s big-time corruption and then there is small-time corruption. In Hampton, Fla., there is big-time, small-town corruption.
Following the release of an audit last month that found dozens of violations of Hampton’s city charter, not to mention potential violations of state and federal laws, state officials are threatening to dissolve the small city unless certain conditions are met, including the resignation of all of Hampton’s office-holders and employees. Mayor Barry Layne Moore complied on Tuesday. According to CNN, he did so from a jail cell.
“I, Barry Layne Moore, being of sound mind and body, ask that you would please accept this letter as notification that I am leaving my position with the city of Hampton, effective immediately,” Moore wrote in his resignation letter, obtained by CNN.
Moore found himself under arrest just weeks after being elected in September, for allegedly selling a single 30-milligram oxycodone pill to an undercover informant. He was suspended from his office shortly after his arrest, has pleaded not guilty, and is currently awaiting trial. But that now looks like a minor problem for the city of 477 residents.
The audit released last month contained allegations of nepotism, sloppy bookkeeping, tens of thousands of dollars in questionable payments and charges, and $132,000 charged to an account at a BP gas station and a convenience store across the street from City Hall, according to CNN. Florida lawmakers have given the city 30 days to get its act together.
Hampton’s woes got attention from The New York Times earlier this week. According to the Times, it was Hampton police officers’ zealous enforcement of the speed limit on Route 301 that runs through the city — motorists received more than 12,000 speeding tickets between 2011 and 2012 — that initially brought the city under scrutiny. A state criminal investigation has been opened, focused on Hampton’s three former full-time employees: the city clerk, the maintenance operator, and the police chief.
“I have said it before: It’s something out of a Southern Gothic novel. You can’t make this stuff up,” state Sen. Rob Bradley (R) told the Times. “This situation went on for so long and the mismanagement was so deep, we have to seriously consider abolishing the government.”