'You probably need to leave now:' HART CEO suspended; investigation into alleged misconduct underway

The Hillsborough Area Regional Transportation Authority (HART) board voted unanimously Monday to suspend HART CEO Ben Limmer after a whistleblower complaint was filed last week.

The complaint alleges misconduct “with respect to procurement process, vendor relations and related matters,” according to Board Attorney David Smith. Limmer was suspended with pay, pending the investigation.

After their vote, Chairperson Les Miller turned to Limmer and said, “Mr. Limmer, you probably need to leave now,” to which Limmer responded “Yep,” collected his things, and walked out of the room.

Smith continued, recommending the board appoint an interim CEO. Members later named Carolyn House Stewart to the post. According to bizjournals.com, Stewart has been with HART since 2015 and was recently promoted to director of risk and legal services.

Details of the allegations against Limmer were not released. Limmer was named HART CEO in February and has stayed in the public eye, most notably while managing the agency’s response to a passenger allegedly stabbing and killing a driver. Limmer has also played a key role in announcing HART’s plans to spend funds raised by the county’s penny transportation sales tax increase, which voters passed back in November.