House will subpoena records of TV executive’s Visit Florida deals

Bipartisan probe targets C. Patrick (Pat) Roberts’ TV production firm.

Tampa Bay Times by Steve Bousquet

October 12, 2017

A state House committee took the extraordinary step Thursday of using its subpoena power to compel records from a long-time Florida broadcast executive and political figure who had TV contracts with Visit Florida.

The House Public Integrity & Ethics Committee voted unanimously to subpoena records from C. Patrick (Pat) Roberts, president of the Florida Association of Broadcasters, and his production company, MAT Media LLC of Tallahassee. FAB is the influential trade association on behalf of Florida radio and TV stations.

Roberts, a Tallahassee political fixture for decades, finds himself in House Speaker Richard Corcoran’s crosshairs as part of his long-running focus on the spending practices at Visit Florida, the state’s taxpayer-funded tourism promotion agency.

Thursday’s action at the state Capitol follows a report in the Naples Daily Newsthat Visit Florida agreed in 2012 to pay Roberts’ company $2.8 million to create and produce a TV program promoting the state as a fishing destination. Under the deal, the newspaper reported, Roberts’ firm also kept all advertising and sponsorship revenue.

The newspaper reported in May that as part of the deal, Roberts got a boat worth $175,000 from one of the program’s sponsors, but a Visit Florida spokesman said the agency had no role in that transaction. Roberts was quoted as saying the vessel was in exchange for advertising and promotion, which he said is a standard TV industry practice.

The newspaper reported that Visit Florida also paid Roberts’ firm $11.6 million to produce a cooking show featuring the celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse. [READ MORE]

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