It took over a year of media probing as well as a lawsuit filed by incoming Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R—Land-O-Lakes, but the details about rapper Pitbull's secret deal with Visit Florida are finally out:
The state's tourism agency, Visit Florida, paid the Florida native who calls himself "Mr. 305" a cool million in taxpayer money to... use a hashtag (#LoveFL), headline a New Year's Eve Party and use an already-existing song of his in a video to promote Florida.
And that didn't include travel or promotion expenses.
Yes, you are in the wrong line of work. Aren't we all?
The partnership was made public in September of 2015, months after the contract's start date. Soon after, media outlets began to ask questions about what Visit Florida was paying him. What they got were copies of the contract with portions of it blacked out, ostensibly because of "proprietary" reasons.
“It’s been an honor to represent Miami and the Sunshine State. I’ve taken Miami and Florida worldwide – WAY before any contract, and will do so way after. I love my home state. When asked to take on a New Year’s show, I INSISTED it be live from Florida. #LoveFL since birth . . . and til the day I die. Dale!” he posted.
The move comes a couple days after Corcoran announced he was filing suit in order to get the details of the 12-month contract that ended June 30, and a couple weeks after columnist Carl Hiaasen joined the chorus of media in asking the state what it was hiding.
"Florida has hired celebrities before, but taxpayers knew how much money was being shelled out," he said.
You know, Sunshine Laws and what-have-you.
In a statement issued Thursday, Corcoran called it unfortunate that it took litigation to get the contract out in the open.
“This was a long unnecessary journey through claims of trade secrets, threats of prosecution, and corporate welfare paid for by taxpayers. The people’s House will not hesitate to use every tool at our disposal to protect the taxpayer and ensure transparency is the rule and not the exception in state government," he said.
His counterpart on the other side of the aisle, House Minority Leader Janet Cruz, called the disclosure "a win for Floridians." Rather than comment on the amount he was paid, she said, the state's taxpayers "may now judge for themselves whether or not this agreement constitutes a good deal for our state."
“For state government to be fully accountable to the people of Florida, these decisions must be made without secrecy and in the sunshine at all times. There is no excuse for a lack of transparency when it comes to how taxpayer dollars are being spent. With the many challenges currently facing our state, we must ensure that every tax dollar spent is gaining the greatest benefit for every Floridian,” she said in a statement released to media Thursday.