Port Tampa Bay CEO gets outstanding review and raise despite state investigation

Port Tampa Bay CEO Paul Anderson received an "outstanding" rating, the highest possible for his yearly review. This allows him to get a 3 percent raise, on top of his already 1.5 percent increase for cost of living.

His outstanding review was accepted by the PTB board, despite the fact the state's Public Integrity and Ethics Committee is investigating questionable expenses the I-Team previously uncovered.
We found executives spent more than 870 thousand dollars on their company credit cards over 3 years.

The I-Team uncovered tens of thousands were spent on wining, dining, and sporting events.

MORE | Port Executives wining and dining on your dime

IN-DEPTH | Mayor demands policy change 

We asked Steve Swindal, the port board chairman, if an outstanding rating was warranted while the state is investigating.

"Whoever's investigating just because they're investigating doesn't mean there's anything wrong", he answers.

Anderson's outstanding review is announced one day after we uncovered, Anderson waited several months to disclose to the board, he spent $100,000 on the NCAA championship football game.

The payment records show two NCAA payments for $50,000 each. According to policies, Anderson can approve funds without board approval "up to $100,000."

A move Swindal supports.

Reporter: "What business deals were closed as a direct result of the football game sir?"
Swindal:  "The business deals are cultivated ok?  You can't say that you closed a deal at a football game, or a golf course, or a steakhouse, but it's obviously developing a relationship with that customer."

The port received two dozen tickets to the big game and dozens of other passes to the other related events. We asked for all of the names of people who got tickets.

Port officials tell us six executives including Anderson attended, but no one can seem to remember who their guests were.

We're told "he doesn't have the names" and "no one was keeping track of it".

We asked Swindal who got the tickets.  "We'll let staff provide you the list."

When we told him we were told they don't have a list, he answered, "We have a list".

After the board meeting and our interview with Swindal, we were told again there is no list.

Only two board members were critical of Anderson in their review Mayor Bob Buckhorn, and newly appointed board member Mike Griffin.

"I know my rating was very direct and I know Mr. Anderson's ready to implement more changes as we see them," Griffin told us.

Mayor Buckhorn was absent from the meeting due to the 4th murder in Seminole Heights

Mayor Buckhorn wrote in Anderson's review, "It was not the port's finest hour nor is it a chapter that anyone should be proud of" (referencing the I-Team's findings).

Swindal disagrees with calling the expenses "excessive".

When asked if he stands by all expenses he answers, "I stand by expenses, yes".

Anderson's predecessor Richard Wainio told us he recently reached out to some of the board members.

In reaction to our latest report he tells us quote, "This on top of the other unacceptable, expenditures by the port requires a change in port leadership.  It's time for the port board- especially the Mayor and Sandy Murman to take appropriate action."

Governor Rick Scott's office responded in a written statement stating;

"The Governor believes that any use of tax dollars must be done with accountability and transparency. Currently, third party audits of expenses have been directed by the Port Authority Board. If those audits find any misuse of tax dollars, our office take the appropriate action."

Anderson is one of the highest paid port CEO's in the country-- higher than New York and LA's.

With his new raise he will be making $417,917 a year.

Tampa International Airports CEO Joe Lapano makes $393,824 (he is expected to get a 15% raise next April). Plus per contract, Anderson gets an extra $50,000 a year dumped into his deferred compensation among many other perks.

You can see Anderson's full contract here.

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.

Port Executive Ed Miyagishima resigned and was forced to pay back more than $11,000 in "unexplained charges."

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

Corcoran previously 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."

Anderson continues to say publicly they are having "record breaking operating revenues" this year.

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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