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Secret deal with Pitbull costs state tourism agency head his job

@JeremySWallace

Secret terms of a contract with Miami music star Pitbull to promote Florida beaches has cost the head of the state’s tourism agency his job.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott on Friday called for Visit Florida’s CEO Will Seccombe to resign, even while noting that Florida has had record tourism in each of the last 4 years that Seccombe has led the agency.

“The mission of Visit Florida is crucial to the economic growth of our state and Will Seccombe has played a major role for many years in helping Florida attract record numbers of tourists,” Scott said in a letter to the chairman of the Visit Florida board of directors. “However, the major changes outlined above require new leadership and ideas at the agency, and I believe it would be best for the future efforts of Visit Florida for Will to step down and allow new leadership to come in at this critical time.”

Scott praised Pitbull in the letter for his “devotion to our great state.”

On Thursday, Pitbull released terms of the secret deal on Twitter, showing he made $1 million from Visit Florida to promote the state on social media, in a music video and at live concerts. He released the contract after Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran sued the music star’s production company to force him to release the details.

Seccombe had refused to divulge the contract, saying part of the deal with Pitbull prevented release of the details which the musician claimed to be a “trade secret.”

Seccombe said earlier this week that he would never do another deal without disclosing the contracts, but insisted it was a smart contract because it help Florida reach millions of Pitbull’s fans with a message that Florida’s beaches are cool.

"The strategy behind that was dead on," Seccombe said.

But Scott said Friday that it was "ridiculous" that Visit Florida would not be transparent in its spending. In addition to calling for Seccombe's ouster, Scott has requested Visit Florida set new policies and procedures to assure they are open and sharing details of their organization with the public.

Visit Florida's budget since 2009 has grown $29 million to $78 million since 2009. In that same time period, the state's visitors jumped from 82 million to 106 million.

The deal with Pitbull paid the performer:

• $250,000 in July 2015 for a "talent fee" and use of his name and likeness.

• $250,000 after he completed a music video for Sexy Beaches that included footage of Florida beaches and a social media hashtag promoting Florida.

• $100,000 for cutting a 10 to 15 second intro as part of a "Conquering Florida" video series Visit Florida uses to promote the state.

• $100,000 for six "Florida Pit Package" sweepstakes that would include travel packages to Florida.

• $300,000 for promoting Florida on social media platforms at least two times a month with the hashtag #LoveFL.

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