Senate President Don Gaetz has grown fond of saying, about the
legislative process, “It takes three ‘Yeses’ to get to ‘Yes’ and only one ‘No’
to get to ‘No’.”
When it comes to the ill-fated $20 million grant to a now-bankrupt
Port St. Lucie film studio, several legislative power players said ‘Yes’ to a
deal that later cost taxpayers dearly.
The long list of abettors, unveiled in a recently released Chief
Inspector General report, includes former Gov. Charlie Crist, former economic
development head Dale Brill, current Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, former
House Speaker Larry Cretul, former U.S. Representative David Rivera, former
Rep. Kevin Ambler and former Lieutenant Gov. Jennifer Carroll.
In a process that Brill said involved taking great energy to
“deliberately and intentionally sidestep the process,” Digital Domain was able
to corral enough support from Tallahassee
power players to get $20 million in taxpayer grants over the objections of the organization
responsible for vetting such awards.
According to the report, Enterprise Florida
advised against giving Digital Domain such a large grant in 2009, raising
questions about its financial stability.
But there were several other power players who said ‘Yes,’
allowing the company to circumvent the vetting process and gain access to a
large pot of taxpayer cash.
Last year, Digital Domain went bust in a high-profile
Gov. Rick Scott ordered his Chief Inspector General Melinda
Miguel to investigate how the deal came together.
According to Miguel’s report, here’s a timeline of how the
ill-fated deal came into existence: