It’s been happening for far too long. And, if the governor has his way, it will continue unchecked and we can’t allow that to happen. VISIT FLORIDA is fleecing the taxpayers of Florida to the tune of millions upon millions of dollars each year. It’s an incestuous circle that is paying multi-millions of dollars to former VISIT FLORIDA officials and Florida connected celebrities in the name of tourism development.
We have already seen examples with rapper PITBULL and Le Mans racing and British soccer team sponsorships. Now we see that $9.1 million went to Brand USA, run by Christopher L. Thompson, the former head of VISIT FLORIDA. Another $11 plus million are headed toward Emeril Lagasse through a Tallahassee production company that is jacking the cooking show production cost some 450 times according to one contract. There is no indication in the reporting I have seen that Lagasse is knowingly participating in any wrongdoing toward taxpayers.
There is no accountability for the expenditure of these funds, no performance matrix and no way to quantify what, if any, impact the monies have on Florida tourism. In other words, like the EDC, it’s a great gig if you can get it-government funding with no accountability and no ability for the government to control organization management or practices.
The travel and tourism industry has found a way to fleece governments and thereby taxpayers (I have no doubt that this happens all over the country) and there are no checks and balances because no one is minding the store.
In the Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran is out to stop this nonsense and I, for one, am glad that he is. He deserves our support in this effort and the governor needs to be called in to account.