Wife of agency chief severs contractor tie

Published May 17, 2006

TALLAHASSEE - The head of the state's motor vehicle agency said Tuesday his wife will no longer work as a lobbyist for a traffic school that has a deal with his agency to be the only school allowed to advertise in the state's official driver's handbook.

Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles Director Fred Dickinson said he and his wife Sherry were concerned about the "perception" of a conflict of interest, but he insisted the agency did nothing wrong in choosing her client, LowestPriceTrafficSchool.com, to advertise in the handbook in exchange for the company's paying for the printing of the book.

Dickinson insisted that his wife never lobbied his agency, and Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles officials said LowestPriceTrafficSchool.com won the right to advertise in the handbook after a competitive bidding process.

The deal called for the company to pay for the printing of the books, which are available free at state offices to people learning to drive, In exchange, the traffic school has several ads in the book.

Dickinson noted that his wife had the school as a client before they were married

Gov. Jeb Bush had expressed concerns about the "perception of a conflict" after television stations reported the relationship.