Florida's House Speaker demanding accountability for excessive port spending

Posted at 7:16 PM, Oct 19, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-20 08:51:11-04

Florida's House Speaker is demanding years worth of travel and financial records from Port Tampa Bay.

It all stems from a story the I-Team broke back in June.

Investigator Jarrod Holbrook uncovered excessive spending on executives credit cards, and wining and dining on your dime.

Port Tampa Bay recently received this letter demanding entertainment, travel, and marketing expenses dating back several years.

After seeing our stories, House Speaker Richard Corcoran launched a state level investigation with the House Public Integrity and Ethics Committee.

The speaker demands receipts, requests for reimbursements, and all expense reports.

He's also seeking  all communications through text or email relating to the review, verification, or approval of the expenses.

He also wants to know which port employees and guests attended outings and events, such as the Tampa Bay Lightning season ticket games, golf club membership games, or fancy dinners.

Since our investigation port executives implemented 13 pages of stronger policies on spending after Mayor Bob Buckhorn demanded change.

Governor Rick Scott appointed a new board member to review and oversee the spending problem.

Port executives including the CEO are reimbursing the port for various charges.

State legislators are reviewing the new policy changes and how effective they are to curb excessive spending.

Corcoran told us after our seeing our investigation  "I've told staff I want it all done. I want it all stopped, I want it all cleaned up and whatever method we have to undertake to do that I don't care if it's shutting down their funding, prosecuting, suing whatever it takes i want it all shut down."

Port Tampa Bay's spokesperson Sam Sodos tell us, "we're complying with the speaker's request and welcome the opportunity to tell our story: we're lowering our debt, generating record-breaking revenues, and expanding the port's infrastructure."

We've also learned since our last story port executives spent $100k on the NCAA championship football game in Tampa this year.

We asked for more specific information but all we are told is it was part of a sponsorship.

We're also waiting for records relating to reimbursements executives are making a result of excessive or unexplained charges.

That request was sent more than 2 months ago.


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 FacebookTwitter, or via email at