TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – The staff of Visit Tampa Bay spends millions of tax dollars promoting tourism to a worldwide audience, but when it comes to talking about themselves—specifically how they spend $10 million a year in bed tax money, they tend to go rather quiet.
Eight On Your Side’s public records request for expense reports turned in by Visit Tampa Bay’s CEO Santiago Corrada and his spokespirate Kevin T. Greybeard have been summarily denied by the organization’s attorneys. Visit Tampa Bay’s government sponsor Hillsborough County government isn’t prepared to press Visit Tampa to give up the booty either.
None of this is terribly surprising since Visit Tampa Bay already scuttled our previous requests for credit card records that would show how its staff spends money on travel and entertaining in the quest to bring more tourists to Tampa.
Corrada calls such information “trade secrets,” and claims it would spoil Visit Tampa Bay’s element of surprise in the competitive marketplace of tourism promotion. Corrada insists the financial reports that Visit Tampa Bay files with Hillsborough County should satisfy anyone’s curiosity about his agency’s spending.
Visit Tampa Bay sent an email to Eight On Your Side late Wednesday insisting that “Greybeard” is not a member of the “staff” but stems from a” tongue- in-cheek joke built around Gasparilla”. The organization did not answer our questions about the compensation he receives for posing as a pirate in stage and video appearances in order to promote Tampa’s attractions to conventions and meeting planners. “Greybeard’s” personal Facebook page indicates he works professionally as an actor starring in in different roles and in various commercials shot in Florida.
Whatever compensation Visit Tampa Bay spends on “Greybeard” remains a mystery. But the compensation that Visit Tampa Bay pays its CEO Santiago Corrada is a public record available in IRS financial reports because the organization is a private nonprofit. In the most recent tax year available for scrutiny Corrada earned more than $285,000. That’s about twice as much as the Mayor of Tampa earns and doesn’t include Corrada’s travel and entertainment expenses which Visit Tampa Bay refuses to disclose.