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Integrity Florida's sponsored research triggers resignations

The decision by the nonprofit watchdog group Integrity Florida to produce research sponsored by Americans for Prosperity has triggered a pair of resignations. AFP, run by the politically influential Koch brothers, paid for a research project that concluded that a "pay to play" culture exists at Enterprise Florida Inc.

Barbara Petersen, executive director of the First Amendment Foundation, resigned her seat on Integrity Florida's board after questions were raised about the propriety of sponsored research. Immediately afterward, Integrity Florida's Dan Krassner stepped down from his seat on the First Amendment Foundation.

"We agreed it was best for Barbara to resign, and Dan offered to resign and I accepted the resignation," said Tim Nickens, editor of the Tampa Bay Times editorial pages and chairman of the First Amendment Foundation board.  

Petersen said: "I found myself in the uncomfortable situation of being asked by citizen groups and the media to justify recent decisions by Integrity Florida that, to some, inaccurately folded [the First Amendment Foundation] into Integrity Florida's decision-making process ... This put me in a very difficult position and I decided it would be best if I resigned." Krassner said Petersen did not attend any Integrity Florida board meetings and played no role in the decision to partner with AFP.

-- Steve Bousquet