Rick Scott: Charlie Crist “circumvented” incentive process

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Governor Rick Scott took a shot at his predecessor and possible 2014 Democratic challenger while posting support for the continuation of the state’s business incentive programs Wednesday, reports Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida. The governor’s assertions came in response to his inspector general’s report in how the failed Digital Domain Media Group received $20 million from Florida in 2009.

The report from Chief Inspector General Melinda Miguel found that there was nothing unlawful in how the money was awarded to bring the company to Port St. Lucie. 

However, investigators noted there were gaps in written documentation, conflicting recollections of events and unavailable key witnesses as they reviewed how the project was then successfully moved through the Legislature after the initial proposal failed to get a recommendation from Enterprise Florida.

“This Inspector General report shows two things – first, our current economic project vetting process is in place for a reason, and second, that process was clearly circumvented by the previous administration for the Digital Domain deal,” Scott said in a release.

Enterprise Florida President and CEO Gray Swoope claimed that Scott has imposed a “more rigorous review process for the use of incentive funds” that includes sanctions for failing to meet projected employment and business benchmarks.

However, Miguel wrote that safeguards have not been fully put in place to prevent state leaders from approving a similar economic incentive package to the one received by Digital Domain.

According to the report, after the Digital Domain and its president John Textor of Jupiter Island failed to get the favorable recommendation, he and David Brill, Crist’s economic development director, and former Rep. Kevin Ambler, R-Tampa, took the project through the Legislature.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.