Tag Archives: Red Light Cameras

Former CEO of Red Light Camera Company Pleads Guilty to Bribery of Public Officials

Last Friday, federal prosecutors announced in a statement obtained by Ars Technica that former Redflex Traffic Systems CEO Karen Finley has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit federal programs bribery and wire and mail fraud charges related to an eight-year long pay-to-play scheme in which the red light camera manufacturer provided campaign contributions to local elected officials in exchange for municipal contracts.

According to The Chicago Tribune, no charges have been filed against any public officials for participating in the scheme. Prosecutors have not yet mentioned which officials might have been involved.

The prosecutors’ statement read, “From December 2005 to February 2013, Finley served as CEO of a red light camera enforcement company. As part of her plea agreement, Finley admitted that, between 2005 and 2013, she participated in a scheme in which the company made campaign contributions to elected public officials in the cities of Columbus and Cincinnati through a consultant retained by the company. According to admissions made in connection with her plea, Finley and others, including another executive of the company, agreed to provide the conduit campaign contributions with the understanding that the elected public officials would assist the company in obtaining or retaining municipal contracts, including a photo red light enforcement contract with the City of Columbus. Finley also admitted she and her co-conspirators concealed the true nature and source of the payments by the consultant’s submission and the company’s payment of false invoices for ‘consulting services,’ which funds the consultant then provided to the campaigns of the elected public officials.

[RELATED: Facing Losses and Pushback from Angry Americans, Redflex May Quit the Red Light Camera Business]

The Columbus Dispatch notes that Columbus City Council President Andrew Ginther, a frontrunner for November’s mayoral race, currently faces allegations that he solicited a $20,000 donation from Redflex in exchange for protecting the company’s municipal contracts. Ginther said in a statement, “I had absolutely no knowledge of these activities and did not take part in them… While I am not a subject of this inquiry, I have been asked to provide records that may help the investigation into Redflex. I’ve fully cooperated and will continue to assist in bringing these people to justice.

Federal investigators have also probed the Ohio Democratic Party, which has been implicated in the scandal, for records. “A few days ago, the Ohio Democratic Party was asked to produce documents going back a number of years, and we are in the process of complying with that request,” said Ohio Democratic Party spokesperson Kirstin Alvanitakis.

Ars Technica notes that Finley was also indicted in Chicago on similar charges back in August of 2014 related to a $2 million alleged bribery scandal that led to Redflex losing its Chicago red light camera contract. Though she previously pleaded not guilty in that case, Finley is now expected to reverse her plea in August of 2015.

BREAKING: Tennessee Outlaws Speed Cameras

NASHVILLE, April 22, 2015– On Wednesday, the Tennessee General Assembly voted to outlaw unmanned speed cameras used to issue traffic tickets. Followed by a 29:1 Senate vote in favor of the ban, the House voted 74:16:1. 

“My office has received thousands of phone calls and emails in support of this legislation from across the state. The outcry from the public is palpable. I was really honored to have more than thirty co-sponsors on this legislation. Especially Senate sponsor Todd Gardenhire,” said HB1372 chief sponsor Rep. Andy Holt (R-Dresden).

Multiple judges from across the country have thrown out traffic camera tickets due to their unconstitutional nature. 

“Tennesseans are tired of having their constitutional right to face their accuser sold to private out-of-state companies.” 

The original intent of the bill was to outlaw red light cameras and speed cameras. However, the bill was stripped of some of its elements through the committee process. Currently, the ban only outlaws speed cameras. However, school zones and a s-curve roads will still be able to utilize the cameras.

Holt says he will continue to work towards outlawing red light cameras next year. 

“It’s very rare that you get everything you want. However, I am really happy that we were able to take a step in the right direction. We’re not going to quit fighting for our constituents’ rights.”

Proponents of the cameras argue that they are a safety measure. However, Holt says the evidence proves otherwise.

“The truth is, almost all studies showing that cameras improve safety are sponsored by the very companies and municipalities that make millions of dollars off of them. Virtually every non-biased, peer reviewed study shows that the cameras actually have either a negative effect, or no change at all regarding safety. At best, the evidence is inconclusive. Regardless, we have to realize that we cannot sell our rights for the guise of safety.”

HB1372 awaits Governor Bill Haslam’s signature. 


Facing Losses and Pushback from Angry Americans, Redflex May Quit the Red Light Camera Business

What was once a growing municipal trend may now be on its way out as red light camera manufacturer Redflex Traffic Systems struggles for survival in the face of mounting scandals, lost contracts, and pushback from angry voters who feel that traffic enforcement cameras are a ploy by municipalities to raise revenue, rather than promote public safety. A recent study by Chicago Tribune noted that red light cameras did not produce net safety benefits, but did coincide with a 22% increase in rear-end accidents with injuries.

Voters and legislators in various counties, municipalities, and states have begun pushing bans on red light cameras, with some already having taken effect. Redflex lost its contract to service red light cameras in Chicago after a major corruption scandal was uncovered, and the firm stands to lose contracts in Ohio, where red light cameras face new regulations requiring a live police officer’s presence, and New Jersey, where the use of the cameras is up for review and may be canceled. According to Ars Technica, Redflex Traffic Systems told the Australian Securities Exchange in a filing that it faces a $3.2 million book value loss if those key Ohio and New Jersey contracts do not end up getting renewed. NJ.com notes that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie recently said that his “inclination is not to continue” red light camera enforcement.

According to TheNewspaper.com, Redflex’ new CEO Paul Clark told investors at the end of 2014 that the company may be considering a shift away from the photo ticket enforcement business, at least in the United States. Said Clark, “North America (particularly the US), where the bulk of our asset base, EBITDA and cash flow resides, continues to be a low/no-growth market made more challenging by public pushback against photo enforcement… Redflex needs to be de-risked. Revenue volatility, geographic and product concentration risks, class actions, federal investigations, different technology platforms all create a high risk business. To move into the non-Photo Enforcement market, organically or inorganically.”

Clark also outlined some of the other issues facing his company, “Over just the past three years, this company has seen seven directors leave the organization, has had three chairmen and is on its third group CEO. Seven directors. Three chairmen. Three CEOs. Over three years.” NJ.com notes that Redflex CEO Karen Finley was indicted in August of 2014 on allegations that she bribed officials in an effort to earn the since-lost Chicago red light camera contract. Another federal lawsuit alleges that Redflex executives bribed officials in 13 states in an attempt to obtain taxpayer funding. The company reportedly expects to lose $12 million fighting its legal battles.

Redflex CEO Clark also blamed his company’s troubles on a “negative community reaction driving contract terminations (not new contracts), legislation changes, lower enforcement levels and multiple class actions.”

Tennessee Legislator: “It’s time to outlaw red light cameras”

DRESDEN, Tenn., January 8, 2015– State Representative Andy Holt (R-Dresden) says his constituents are sick and tired of being constantly watched by street cameras hoping to make a quick dollar off of them. Holt took to social media to ask voters in his district whether or not they were in favor of the highly controversial cameras.

“If I could single-handedly outlaw every speed camera in the Great State of Tennessee, I would do it without a second thought,” said Holt. “Regardless of political party, the vast majority of folks are 100 percent against them.”

“Speed & red-light cameras are nothing more than a modernized form of speed-trapping. They have very little to do with safety, and everything to do with municipal greed. Apart from being a technically unlawful form of local fundraising off the backs of local citizens, it‘s a poorly contracted scheme since a large portion of the “revenue” is sent elsewhere, outside the State of Tennessee,” Holt continued. 

Holt says that many businesses in his district are concerned due to the fact that motorists are now avoiding streets where the cameras are located which is hurting their bottom line.

“In a depressed economic environment, I believe we should all be aware that money walks. This goes for all policy makers; federal, state & local. When people & businesses are over-regulated, they leave. It may not be the speed cameras that make folks leave, but the mentality of making locals pay for the perceived “needs” of a local government typically creates the urge to vacate. I support these movements if necessary; that’s the basis of liberty & freedom as our founders intended, and Tennessee is currently a beneficiary of these movements from liberal states. We need to ensure that our state does not begin moving in the wrong direction by allowing folks’ rights to be violated so out-of-state businesses can collect revenue,” said Holt.

Holt says he is encouraging city policy makers to dismantle their red-light camera programs, but says he is also considering state-wide legislation to ban them in totality.

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MO Cities Sue in Effort to Overturn Voter-Approved Ban on Red Light Cameras

In November, voters in St. Charles County, MO approved a charter amendment that prohibits municipalities within the county from using red light cameras to enforce traffic laws. According to KMOV-TV St. Louis, 73% of voters gave support for the ban, overwhelmingly sending a message that citizens in the county do not approve of cities using the cameras, which are seen as a revenue generating tool. However, the cities of St. Peters, Lake St. Louis, and O’Fallon are suing in an effort to reverse the ban, claiming that the county government has no authority over municipalities’ traffic rules.

KMOV-TV St. Louis cited a statement by the City of St. Peters on the issue, which said, “No authority exists for St. Charles County to lay claim to the regulation of traffic on city streets.” Proponents of red light cameras claim that the devices promote safe driving and that the ballot measure banning them was titled in a manner that misled voters. The charter amendment was titled “Proposition Red Light Camera.”

John Young, an attorney representing the plaintiffs in this case, says that the suit could take months or even years to work its way through the courts. Meanwhile, red light cameras in the county remain in place pending the forthcoming ruling, though they have been kept in a powered-off state since September.

St. Charles County Councilman Joe Brazil, who opposes the use of red light cameras, commented on the politics of the lawsuit, “Seventy-three percent of the voters pass a ban on red light cameras so what these cities are doing are suing 73 percent of the voters in St. Charles County, within their own cities. They’re suing their own residents.” St. Louis Today notes that O’Fallon Councilman Jim Pepper and Dardenne Prairie Mayor Pam Fogarty personally signed on to the lawsuit against the charter amendment banning red light cameras, which bears political risk given the fact that a strong majority of St. Charles County voters came out to the polls in support of the ban. The plaintiffs claim that they have standing to go forward with the lawsuit, which was filed in St. Charles County Circuit Court, because the cities involved would lose revenue if the ban were to be enforced.

Roger Dalsky, a local supporter of the ban on red light cameras who was interviewed by KMOV-TV St. Louis, said, “The federal government has jurisdictions over the states, states have jurisdictions over the counties, the counties have jurisdictions over their municipalities, so it’s fairly clear that they have the right to impose laws on those municipalities, especially if those laws are voted into law by the voters.”

County Councilman Joe Brazil parroted Dalsky’s sentiment, saying in comments to St. Louis Today, “The people have the right to change the constitution of the county… That’s what voters do.” Brazil also pointed out the fact that some of the plaintiffs on the case have themselves promoted county-wide referendums on other issues that would have affected municipal policies, acts which he characterized as hypocritical.

The Missouri Supreme Court is currently considering three separate red light camera cases, which had their first hearings on December 2. In one case, the Missouri Supreme Court is reviewing a decision by St. Louis Circuit Judge Steven Ohmer in which he invalidated two fines which were issued via red light cameras to two women whose cars were being driven by someone else at the time that the tickets were issued. The Missouri Supreme Court is also weighing the broader issue of whether municipalities can use red light cameras without the state legislature granting specific authority to do so.

As TheNewspaper.com points out, St. Peters, MO once hosted the nation’s first ever corruption trial over red light cameras, as former St. Peters Mayor Shawn Brown was convicted of taking a bribe from the company Redflex Traffic Systems in exchange for his support for a measure installing the company’s cameras city-wide. According to St. Louis Public Radio, Brown was sentenced in 2007 to an 18-month stint in federal prison over the scandal.