Visit Orlando spent $76,500 to advertise on one of its board member’s stations, which House Speaker Richard Corcoran claims looks like a conflict of interest.
Orlando’s marketing agency spent the money to advertise on Fox 35. Allyson Meyers, the vice president and general manager for Fox 35, sits on Visit Orlando’s board of directors.
Meyers did not return a reporter’s calls for comment.
Corcoran has sent a letter requesting all documents in which Visit Orlando paid public funds to businesses that are represented on their board.
Becca Bides, spokeswoman for Visit Orlando, could not be reached for a response.
“The Legislature has enacted reforms and accountability measures to ensure transparency and good stewardship when it comes to public funds,” Corcoran’s request letter said. He went on to say that Florida law requires Visit Orlando to be transparent and accountable to the public.
Visit Orlando receives money from the 6 percent tax on hotel rooms in Orange County. The funds generated nearly two-thirds, or $51 million, of its $80 million budget in 2016.
Corcoran sent a letter in August to the state’s 12 tourist development councils, including Visit Orlando, saying the state expects the same accountability of spending as it does for Visit Florida, the state’s marketing agency.
Orange County Comptroller Phil Diamond said he plans to audit the agency, which would be Visit Orlando’s first audit in nearly nine years.
Cathy Dixon, spokesperson for Diamond, said the audit department must complete other audits before they get to the Visit Orlando audit.
“Unfortunately, we do not have an exact date at the moment for when we will be doing the Visit Orlando audit,” Dixon said.