Florida probes domestic violence agency that paid CEO $750K

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday ordered an investigation into a nonprofit domestic abuse agency whose CEO had received $7.5 million in compensation over a three-year span.

The House also voted to subpoena the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence’s board of directors and former president as the state examines thousands of pages of documents detailing “exorbitant” executive pay.

DeSantis, a Republican, asked the state’s chief inspector general to investigate the nonprofit and ordered the head of the state’s child welfare agency to review contracts with the organization, which distributes state and federal money to organizations that help domestic violence victims.

Hours later, Republican state Rep. Tom Leek told his colleagues that former coalition CEO and President Tiffany Carr had received about $7.5 million in compensation over the three years before she resigned. He said that included a salary that had ballooned to $750,000 a year and separate compensation for up to 210 days a year of paid time off.

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In his letter to Chief Inspector General Melinda Miguel, DeSantis said the documents expose “exorbitant compensation payouts, failures of leadership, misuse of state dollars, and breaches of public trust.”

“My administration will not tolerate wasteful or fraudulent spending, particularly by an organization that purports to serve the vulnerable victims of domestic violence,” DeSantis added.

The House on Thursday voted to subpoena Carr and the domestic violence coalition’s board of directors.

“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.

Questions about Carr’s salary were first raised in 2018 by the Miami Herald and Tampa Bay Times. Since then, the House has sought coalition documents for 20 months. Leek, who chairs the House Public Integrity and Ethics Committee, said the agency stonewalled requests for information before providing 104,000 documents on Wednesday.

“This is not a good morning, and I think today will prove to be a bad day in the history of the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence,” Leek told his committee before the full House met.

Scott Howell, the coalitions president of internal and external affairs, didn’t immediately respond to a phone 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.

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