Veteran lobbyist Harold “Trey” Price has been named executive director of the Florida Housing Finance Corp.
Price announced his hiring on social media Friday.
He will take over from interim Executive Director Ken Reecy, who’s been in charge since the resignation of Steve Auger, the previous executive director.
Price has his work cut out for him. Auger stepped down after a scathing audit of the organization, the steward of state and federal affordable housing money, disclosed lavish spending on events for lenders and board members.
Auger oversaw expenses for “a $52,000 dinner (for lenders) that featured filet mignon, broiled lobster tails and a bar stocked with deluxe brand liquors,” the audit revealed.
The agency also put on a board reception, spending “$300 for a bartender, $425 for a pork carving station and $420 for a Spanish charcuterie station.” It also awarded nearly $443,000 in bonuses to its employees.
Prosecutors had alleged 70-year-old developer Lloyd Boggio of Carlisle Development Group and others defrauded the government out of millions that went through the FHFC.
They did so by padding South Florida affordable-housing projects to get federal tax credits and grants, then keeping the excess, according to case documents.
The audit also noted the agency “did not require sufficient documentation from underwriting agencies to support their denial of mortgage assistance to some applicants” and “did not take adequate steps to ensure that electronic fund transfers were going to authorized recipients.”
He also worked as a campaign manager for several legislative and local campaigns, a general campaign consultant, and a legislative assistant in the Florida House.
Price also has extensive experience working on successful campaigns to amend — or prevent others from amending — Florida’s Constitution.
He began his career in politics as an assistant in the political office of the U.S. Sugar Corporation, and went on to assist the campaign to defeat the Sugar Tax Amendment in 1996, one of the largest and most expensive constitutional amendment campaigns in Florida history.
While at Florida Realtors, Price helped author and shepherd through the Legislature the 2008 Property Tax Amendment 1, which increased Florida’s homestead exemption and gave “portability” to homeowners wanting to move and hold onto their tax break, among other provisions.