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Legislators reject DOT commission candidate

Mar 11, 2010 6:49:00 AM - thestate.com
A well-connected Greenville public relations executive was rejected Wednesday as a candidate for the state Transportation Commission after failing to fully disclose business relationships legislators said could pose conflicts.

Tim Brett's political connections run deep, making it all the more surprising he didn't win a seat on a board that handles billions of dollars in road building decisions.

The 56-year-old former lawmaker said the 10-member Joint Transportation Review Committee is overstepping its authority. "Instead, it has taken on the role of an ethics commission, which is, in my judgment, not within their authority," Brett said. "I have no conflicts."

Brett served two terms in the state House ending in 1986. He was appointed to the commission in 1991, but quit a year later when the Legislature passed a law barring lobbyists from serving on boards and commissions. The client list for Brett Inc. is packed with big-names including Michelin, AT&T, Blue Cross, CVS and Wal-Mart. And it includes the Southern Connector, an upstate privately owned toll road that's had persistent financial problems.

But it's that list that also made Brett the first candidate to be formally rejected by the committee as unqualified to serve. The panel was set up in a 2007 overhaul of the state Transportation Department and determines who joins the seven-member panel that sets priorities and makes spending decisions.