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 bankruptcy.
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: