Okaloosa County Commissioners Ask TDC Members To Resign

By: Drew Steele Email
By: Drew Steele Email

The investigation over how former Executive Director Mark Bellinger was able to steal millions of dollars from the Okaloosa County TDC began almost as soon as the county discovered the money was missing. Nine months later and authorities are still trying to determine if others should be held accountable.

"The board as you know voted unanimously to ask for these resignations. Is it a hundred percent fair maybe not but we all thought it was necessary" said District Five Okaloosa County Commissioner Kelly Windes.

But Windes says this is not a move to hold the TDC board members responsible for Bellinger's actions.

"All that responsibility lies in several places. The board of county commissioners, the chairman, the county administrator, the clerk of the court, the finance department, there's enought blame to go around. The TDC, there's enough blame to go around" said Windes.

"I've got mixed feelings, I understand why they did it and to the commissioners’ credit they weren't point fingers and saying the council members did anything wrong" said Former TDC Board Member Tim Edwards.

Despite his opinion, former board member Tim Edwards says the council's only responsibility is to advise.

"They have absolutely no fiscal oversight. They have no involvement in cutting checks or suggesting what gets paid and what doesn't get paid. They're there for advice and that advice is given to the director and the board of county commissioners" said Edwards.

But Windes defends the resignation decision despite some public backlash.

"Unfortunately it's been more of negativity than positive. Anytime you make a tough decision like we had to make the other night on asking for resignations you get criticized that's just part of it" said Windes.

Local, state and federal law enforcement officials are using a state audit of the TDC books in their ongoing investigations.


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