This town isn’t just corrupt. It’s Florida corrput. The mayor is in jail facing charges of dealing Oxycontin. There’s one cop for every 25 people – in a town of only 500 residents. The county sheriff compares the town’s municipal government to that of The Dukes of Hazzard character “Boss Hogg” – only worse. Welcome to Hampton, FL. You’ll probably stop in whether you want to or not: Speeding tickets is the town’s main source of income.
How off-the-charts corrupt do you have to be to capture somebody’s attention in the Sunshine State?
You can lay claim to a 1,260-foot stretch of busy highway a mile outside of town and set up one of the nation’s most notorious speed traps. You can use the ticket money to build up a mighty police force — an officer for every 25 people in town — and, residents say, let drugs run rampant while your cops sit out by the highway on lawn chairs, pointing radar guns at everybody who passes by.
Of course, none of those things are illegal. But when you lose track of the money and the mayor gets caught up in an oxy-dealing sting, that’s when the politicians at the state Capitol in Tallahassee take notice.
Now they want this city gone, and the sooner the better.
A state audit of Hampton’s books, released last month, reads like a primer on municipal malfeasance. It found 31 instances in which local rules or state or federal laws were violated in ways large and small.