A new law signed on May 1 by Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) banning state and local governments from hiring firms with business activity in Cuba or Syria has put Odebrecht in the spotlight over its work in the Caribbean nation.
Set to take effect on July 1, the law faces potential legal action. Though Scott has since said the state would enforce the law, he also issued a signing statement that indicated congressional action would be required first. The governor cited the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Crosby v. National Federal Trade Council, which involved a Massachusetts law that barred agencies from buying goods or services from firms with business in Burma. In 2000, the court unanimously decided in favor of NFTC, holding that federal law supercedes state action.
NFTC President Bill Reinsch said the group may file suit, due to the Florida law's similarity to the Massachusetts case.
"We think the constitutional issues are the same," Reinsch said. "The analysis that [Scott] got suggested it was unconstitutional. I can't think of a lawyer that would come to an opposite conclusion."
Though many businesses are expected to be affected, the law was widely viewed as targeting Odebrecht, which reported $122.7 million in Florida revenue in 2011. Miami International Airport recently tapped the contractor's Coral Gables office as developer and builder for the proposed Airport City project, a privately funded, $800-million mixed-used development currently under review by the Federal Aviation Administration.
Company officials would not respond to questions from ENR but stated, "Odebrecht USA is fully committed to complying with all local, state and federal law." The U.S. Attorney's office in Miami would not comment.