Affable Tampa Bay Times reporter Michael Van Sickler has a story online about a brewing controversy surrounding Representative James Grant and a grant a company of his received from the Hardee County Industrial Development Authority.
Quite frankly, I am too close to Grant and several other mutual friends connected to this story to write objectively about it, so I’ve refrained from discussing it on my blog. Here’s the gist of Van Sickler’s story:
Jamie Grant was two years out of law school and a freshman member of the state House when he made a bold claim.
His startup company could design a mobile application that would link medical, insurance and legal records for family and first responders. Sales would net $26 million by 2014, Grant said.
He just needed $2.5 million in seed money.
The pitch worked. The Hardee County Industrial Development Authority approved the deal in September 2011 and, by the next month, Grant got his first check.
Now, 18 months later, it’s not clear what happened to the money. It’s all spent, but state auditors say there’s no product, few jobs and no economic growth. Grant would not discuss specific aspects of the deal with the Times/Herald.
” ‘What happened to the money?’ That’s the main question,” said Ted Sauerbeck, Florida’s deputy auditor general. “At this point, we don’t know.”
Like most anyone else who reads this story, I, too, want to know what happened to the money and so I read with interest Van Sickler’s story.
What’s important to keep in mind when reading Van Sickler’s account is that 10 News’ Mike Deeson broke this story wide openTHREE WEEKS AGO after spending months researching Grant and this deal.
(Deeson even camped outside of one of my political happy hours where Rep. Grant was the featured guest in an attempt to interview him.)
Yet Van Sickler and the Tampa Bay Times make no mention whatsoever to 10 News’ or Deeson’s work.
This is what the Times calls “re-reporting” and it’s probably the most detestable aspect of its brand of journalism. It’s also a different standard than what is practiced by many other news organizations. The Associated Press, for example, would at least acknowledge Deeson’s reporting.
Instead, it’s as if this investigation simply appeared out of thin air. Or worse, it reads like Van Sickler, rather than Deeson, discovered something amiss in remote Hardee County. That’s dishonest.
Van Sickler, whom I consider a genuine good guy, if not a friend, should be ashamed to see this story published without some acknowledgement of the shoulders upon which he is standing.