Florida governor orders probe of agency whose CEO received nearly $5M in paid time off
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has ordered an investigation following financial disclosures of a private anti-domestic violence agency, hired by the state, whose former CEO received an annual salary of more than $700,000 — and who reportedly received a total of nearly $5 million in paid time off over a four-year period.
The contract of Tiffany Carr, who led the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence for two decades, granted her 50 paid days off per year since 2010, the Miami Herald reported, in addition to other perks such as a car allowance and time at “an executive retreat at the place of her choosing.”
At least two staffers working under Carr also received lucrative time off arrangements, according to the newspaper.
Carr stepped down from the job, citing a “significant health diagnosis,” following a joint Herald and Tampa Bay Times investigation in July 2018 into her compensation and a subsequent order by the state Department of Children and Families to audit Carr’s agency, the Herald reported.
Details of the agency’s finances were finally revealed to state lawmakers Thursday, prompting the governor’s call for an investigation.
Tiffany Carr, then the executive director of Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence, left, speaks at a news conference held by Gov. Jeb Bush, background right, Sept. 28, 2004, in Tallahassee, Fla. (Associated Press)
“After many months of obstruction by the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the governor’s office received deeply disturbing information regarding the organization’s practices over the past several years,’’ DeSantis’ office said in a statement. “These practices include exorbitant compensation payouts, abuse of state dollars, withholding of information, and breach of public trust.”
The Florida House also voted to subpoena Carr and the agency’s board of directors as the state examines thousands of pages of newly released documents, according to The Associated Press.
DeSantis, a Republican who took office in January 2019, also ordered the head of the state’s child welfare agency to review contracts with the domestic-violence organization, which distributes state and federal money to organizations that help victims of abuse.
“My administration will not tolerate wasteful or fraudulent spending, particularly by an organization that purports to serve the vulnerable victims of domestic violence,” DeSantis said.
“My administration will not tolerate wasteful or fraudulent spending, particularly by an organization that purports to serve the vulnerable victims of domestic violence.”
— Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at news conference in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Jan. 29, 2019. (Associated Press)
“As to the measures that we’re taking, they’re extraordinary, I would say, but these are extraordinary circumstances,” Republican House Speaker Jose Oliva told reporters after the vote on subpoenas.
The House had been seeking more information about Carr’s pay ever since the newspapers first raised questions in 2018, The Associated Press reported.
Scott Howell, the coalition’s president of internal and external affairs, did not immediately respond to an AP message seeking comment.
During House floor debate, Democratic Rep. Anna Eskamani said Carr’s salary was appalling.
“When we work at our local domestic shelters, we know that every penny counts, and when you have a CEO being paid that much money as survivors need support, it should be something that appalls each one of us,” she said.