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Visit Florida Reels After Three Executives Resign Post Pitbull Scandal

Dorathy Gass

Visit Florida just might be scrambling to re-align their leadership board after three execs, including CEO Will Seccombe, have left the agency after a huge scandal unraveled involving popular rapper Pitbull.

The good news is, there seems to be a plan in place, as Bill Talbert, Visit Florida’s board chair recently stated that he and Seccombe would collaborate on a plan to be presented at the Board of Directors meeting taking place in the new year, on January 10th. Talbert seems to think approval by the directors is eminent, as he stated he is ‘confident’ that the direction of the Board’s plan will help place Visit Florida on a continued path of success.

Travelweek reveals that it’s been a hard end of the year for Visit Florida. In the second week of December, Rick Scott, Florida Governor, made a call for Seccombe’s resignation after the agency denied public disclosure around paying Pitbull one million dollars to endorse the state. Seccombe has been with Visit Florida for a lengthy time now, after sitting in the chief marketing officer role for close to five years, in 2012 he was promoted to CEO and has led the agency since. However, he’s not the only member of Visit Florida’s leadership team to walk away, as Paul Philips, current chief marketing officer, and Vangie Field, chief operating office, also submitted resignations.

Governor Scott requested that the agency start to publish audits, spending, salaries, contracts, and well as other financials. Florida’s governor has also stated in a letter to Talbert that the idea that the agency would not be transparent around spending to taxpayers was ludicrous. He goes on to say that he believes major reforms are needed at Visit Florida in the coming weeks and new leadership is required.

This letter from Florida’s governor came a day after Pitbull hopped on Twitter to publicize his Visit Florida contract. Richard Corcoran, House Speaker had launched a suit to release the contract; the agency refused to disclose the contract, stating trade secrets as the reason.

As it seems, the contract detailed that the musician, who’s real name is Armando Christian Perez, would film a video for song ‘Sexy Beaches’; which includes women frolicking in the water and sand, and flashes images of famous Floridian hotels like the Fontainbleau in Miami and St. Pete Beach’s Don CeSar. The contract also had a social media component, where Pit Ball was to don the hashtag #LOVEFL on these platforms and during his concerts.

And while some leaders of the legislative sectors are criticizing the contract, Scott has no issue with hiring Pitball or the video in particular, moreover his problem is with transparency (or lack thereof) that Visit Florida seemed to have around the situation.