As he made an appointment this week to the Tampa Port Authority, Gov. Rick Scott tried to send a message to that agency's board and to other appointees across the state: Be fiscally responsible.
Scott used the appointment of Mike Griffin to the port authority to remind “all appointees to Florida's governmental boards, commissions and advisory councils of their responsibility to be accountable to the taxpayers of Florida and ensure the organizations they oversee operate with fiscal prudence.”
In appointing Griffin --- senior managing director of a commercial real-estate service and chairman of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce --- Scott on Tuesday expressed concern about “media reports detailing wasteful spending by the executives at Port Tampa Bay.”
“The actions detailed in these reports should serve as a reminder of the importance of the oversight every appointee is charged with providing,” Scott said in a statement announcing the appointment. “I look forward to the Tampa Port Authority Governing Board reviewing policies to prevent wasteful spending by employees.”
Also, House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O' Lakes, has directed House staff members to look into how tax dollars have been used.
“The speaker has given clear instructions to both the House legal team and ethics staff to begin any and all investigations into the actions and advise on all recourse actions to ensure the proper spending of taxpayer money,” Corcoran spokesman Fred Piccolo said Wednesday.
In getting the appointment, Griffin committed to analyzing “prior and future” spending by the port.
But facing questions about executive credit-card spending, Port Tampa Bay CEO Paul Anderson said in a statement there is a misperception about how “we spend Port Tampa Bay dollars.”
WFTS in Tampa reported June 30 that over the past three years, port credit cards issued to eight executives have been used to ring up more than $870,000 as they wined and dined and golfed and traveled to build the port's business. Money has been spent on golf-club memberships, Tampa Bay Lightning season tickets and skeet shooting, WFTS reported.
Anderson, in welcoming Griffin to the board, noted that taxpayer money is used “strictly for infrastructure projects” out of a separate account.
“Although we are currently reviewing all Port Tampa Bay expense policies, I believe there is a misperception about the integrity of how we spend Port Tampa Bay dollars,” Anderson said. “I look forward to the opportunity to provide a detailed explanation of our budget, and illustrate how our investments have vastly improved the economic landscape in the Tampa Bay area.”
Scott has been a major proponent of Florida's 15 seaports, which have collectively received more than $1 billion from the state since he took office, of which about $20 million has floated into Port Tampa Bay.
Port Tampa Bay is exceeded only by PortMiami among Florida's seaports in terms of export tonnage and is the largest for domestic tonnage.
SHOOTING HOOPS FOR THE GOVERNOR'S MANSION
An actual Twitter exchange this week among potential gubernatorial candidates centered on free-throw ability.
Reacting to a Politico Magazine report that he called “a damn lie,” Orlando trial lawyer John Morgan tweeted that Corcoran never beat him in a basketball free-throw contest as the potential Republican gubernatorial candidate claimed in the article.
“Couldn't if he tried! I challenge him to a game on Facebook LIVE!” tweeted Morgan, who could run for governor as a Democrat in 2018.
Corcoran replied he's in and that the event should be a charity fundraiser for wounded veterans. He also taunted Morgan by saying no “granny shots” --- an unorthodox underhand style --- allowed.
Morgan said such a contest would be “bigger” than the upcoming Las Vegas “money fight” between professional boxing champion Floyd Mayweather Jr., and UFC champion Conor McGregor.
Former Duke University and NBA star Grant Hill chimed in he'd “be right there by my guy” Morgan. Hill played six seasons in Orlando during his 19-year NBA career.
TWEET OF THE WEEK: “I will never sell out to anyone, anytime,” --- Senate Appropriations Chairman Jack Latvala (@JackLatvala), a potential GOP gubernatorial candidate, in response to Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, already in the governor's race, having proudly declared himself an “#NRASellout.”