Oscar Munoz's latest controversy is no day at the beach
The CEO of United Airlines’ latest controversy is no day at the beach.
Oscar Munoz — who has been the head of the company through several headline-grabbing controversies in the last few years — is being fined $24,000 for taking sand from a public beach in Florida to create protective dunes in front of his $6.8 million home, according to the St. Augustine Record.
He was first accused in April, according to local outlet First Coast News.
Video provided to WJXT News4Jax by an anonymous neighbor shows heavy machinery scooping sand from the beach and moving it in front of the homes of Munoz and three of his neighbors, CEO and president of Web.com David Brown, managing director for UBS Financial Chris Aitken and a woman named Margaret Conolly. All three have also agreed to pay similar fines.
“We’re outraged about this,” another neighbor, Bill Hudson, told the outlet. “It’s a poor reflection on the whole community that someone would be that presumptuous to virtually steal something that belongs to the public and use it for personal gain.”
First Coast News reported that Munoz’s wife, Catherine, and their neighbors received a letter from Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection on March 28 that said an investigation found photographic evidence of violations of Florida statutes that may result in penalties and fines. They had 15 days to attend a meeting with the state on the issue.
Florida beaches have been slammed by recent hurricanes that have eroded the coastline and left beachfront homes vulnerable.
Hudson told WJXT News4Jax that he spent around $28,000 to obtain permits and legally rebuild dunes in front of his home after Hurricane Matthew.
“These people in these houses obviously have the financial wherewithal to fight the DEP,” said Hudson. “It will be interesting to see if the DEP has the strength of character to stand up for the public.”
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The DEP said in a statement to First Coast News, “The department is committed to assisting homeowners recover from hurricane-related impacts as quickly as possible, while ensuring that as corrective actions and restoration activities are implemented for protection to the beach and dune system and private property, they also comply with Florida’s environmental rules and regulations. The department has been actively working to identify, investigate and address all non-compliant emergency/temporary beach-related activities and notify owners where further actions are required.”
Munoz is no stranger to controversy. He bumbled a public apology after security forcefully dragged United customer Dr. David Dao off one of their planes. And the recent death of a dog after a flight attendant instructed its owners to store the pet in an overhead bin, meant more bad press for the brand.