Port of Tampa Bay executives spent $100K on NCAA Football Championship

TAMPA, Fla. — The I-Team has uncovered more lack of accountability at Port Tampa Bay.

Executives spent big money to go to the NCAA Championship football game earlier this year.

$100,000 of your tax money, all so Port Tampa Bay executives could score tickets to the NCAA Championship football game. While the game was back in January, the financials weren't disclosed to board members until their September monthly meeting.

That is one month after executives were forced to roll out more than a dozen new policy changes to improve expense spending.  Several reports by the I-Team revealed port executives spent hundreds of thousands of your money on wining, dining, and sporting events.

The payment records show two NCAA payments for $50,000.

According to policies, Port Tampa Bay's Director Paul Anderson can approve funds without board approval "up to $100,000."

Here's what the port's $100,000 sponsorship included:

  • 24 game tickets
  • 12 parking passes
  • 24 vip pregame passes
  • 12 tickets to the taste of the championship buffet
  • 12 VIP playoff live concert tickets.

So who got the tickets?

CEO Paul Anderson and six other executives went, but no one seems to remember who their guests were.

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We've been trying to get answers for weeks.

In an email a port representative said,

"We do know the names of some of the people who attended but because they are potential customers, we do not want to jeopardize building those business relationships and naming them."

But when we highlighted public records laws, they said days later that we are legally entitled to the information, but quote "he doesn't have the names of the guests."

While following up, a PTB representative told us, "no one was keeping track of it".

As for waiting until September to report the $100,000 expense, a port representative told us in an email, "we should have reported it to the PTB board earlier in May or June."

Port CEO Paul Anderson told  us in a written statement:

"I made a command decision by sponsoring the championship game, which is well within the boundaries of President/CE0 of Port Tampa Bay, to drum up business for the community, contributing to our record-breaking year of operating revenue for the port."

What business deals were closed as a direct result in going to the football game? That's the big question no one seems to be able to answer.

 

Jarrod Holbrook is an Emmy and AP Award-winning Investigative Reporter for the ABC Action News I-Team.

Do you have a story idea? Contact Jarrod on Facebook | Twitter @jarrodholbrook, or via email at jarrod.holbrook@wfts.com.

 

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