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13 posts from February 5, 2013

February 05, 2013

Watchdog group: Florida government engaged in corporate welfare

A government watchdog group and Americans for Prosperity blasted Florida’s government for the hundreds of millions of dollars it gives to corporations, stating the state’s jobs agency is engaged in “pay-to-play” and “corporate welfare.”

A new report by Integrity Florida and Koch-brother funded Americans for Prosperity highlights several problems with the state’s economic incentives program, which uses tax deals to bring companies to Florida.

“We’re concerned about the appearance of pay-to-play ,” said Dan Krassner, director of Integrity Florida.

Among the report’s findings:

- Enterprise Florida has failed to meet its job creation objectives, with companies creating only 103,544 jobs after receiving tax breaks, less than the 200,000 envisioned by the Legislature in 1992 when EFI was created.

- Enterprise Florida has failed to get 50 percent funding from the private sector, instead relying on 85-percent taxpayer funding to support the public-private partnership

- Enterprise Florida has “the appearance of pay-to-play,” since it receives an average of $50,000 from some of its corporate board members. Those board members also get private contracts to do work on EFI’s behalf as well as tax break deals processed by EFI.

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Koch brothers sponsorship of Integrity Florida report forces board member resignation

Integrity Florida released its report this morning on the"pay-to-play" practices of Enterprise Florida's contracting process but a disclaimer at the end of the report has drawn the ire of some members of the group's board. It notes that the report was sponsored by the Koch brothers-funded Americans For Prosperity.

Martin Dyckman, the retired associated editor for the Tampa Bay Times and long-time columnist and reporter, resigned his position on the all-volunteer board because of the sponsorship. Dyckman said he objected to the decision to accept money to finance the research but would have preferred that they accept contributions for general funding as other sources have done.

"I was very deeply concerned about the idea of any special entity being able to sponsor any research,'' Dyckman told the Herald/Times on Tuesday. "As much as I personally detest Americans for Prosperity, I would not have any grounds for objections if they accept support for the organization in general...This creates the perception that a well-researched report is an attack by Americans For Prosperity."

Integrity Florida is a nonpartisan, nonprofit research institute and government watchdog. Its board members include Tea Party officials, a member of the League of Women Voters, the former mayor of gainesville and the president of the First Amendment Foundation.

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Miami-Dade GOP chair and Rubio loyalist Nelson Diaz joins Southern Strategies lobby shop

Before he was picked as Miami-Dade's GOP chair, Nelson Diaz took fire for working for Becker & Poliakoff, a Democratic-centric firm where he once contributed to Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, now the Democratic National Committee chair.

Diaz won't have to worry about contributing to Dems any more and getting grief for it.

Southern Strategies, the heavyweight Republican lobby firm headquartered in Tallahassee, announced his hire along with Miami-Dade lobbyist Edgar Castro.

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