Orlando Sentinel by Gabrielle Russon
October 3, 2017
Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran sent a letter Tuesday to Visit Orlando, demanding the agency disclose whether taxpayer money was spent on advertising or naming-rights deals with WOFL-Fox 35.
Corcoran has been pushing for more transparency regarding the spending of tax dollars by Visit Orlando and other tourism marketing organizations. Visit Orlando receives money from a 6 percent tax on hotel rooms in Orange County but has declined to say how much it has spent on some of its deals.
Corcoran asked the agency to disclose how much it paid for a Fox 35 traffic and weather camera on top of the Hyatt Regency Orlando.
“As you know, representatives of both WOFL-TV Fox 35 Orlando and the Hyatt Regency Orlando sit on the Visit Orlando Board of Directors,” Corcoran wrote to Visit Orlando’s Chief Financial Officer Larry Henrichs.
Brian Comes, the Hyatt’s general manager, and Allyson Meyers, the vice president and general manager for Fox 35, are on Visit Orlando’s board.
“Such an arrangement might be seen as a conflict of interest, and your refusal to release more information might be viewed as an attempt to conceal impropriety and evade public scrutiny,” Corcoran wrote.
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Corcoran, R-Land O’Lakes, also asked Visit Orlando to document any other times public money was spent on businesses with ties to the group’s board members.
. . .
In August, Corcoran vowed to crack down on Visit Orlando and other boards. Those boards, including Experience Kissimmee and Orlando North Seminole County Tourism, cut ties with the statewide tourism council Visit Florida after a new law requiring them to reveal the salaries of board members. That law was pushed heavily by Corcoran.
At Friday’s Orange County Tourist Development Council meeting, Jacobs and Aguel also declined to release another controversial contract, a sponsorship with the U.S. Tennis Association, citing a confidentiality clause. Visit Florida in August released terms of its deal with USTA, in which it spent up to $1 million. [READ MORE]