PASCO COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran filed a lawsuit against musical artist Pitbull’s entertainment company, PDR Productions, Inc. in an effort to disclose a secret contract. Corcoran says Visit Florida agred to the contract in order to make the artist a tax-sponsored tourism ambassador.
The lawsuit alleges the confidential agreement is interfering with an investigation of the Florida House of Representatives Appropriations Committee into the use of tax dollars to fund tourism promotion spending by the private marketing agency known as Visit Florida.
“The speaker seeks this court’s intervention to stop PDR’s unreasonable effort to conceal both what PDR was paid and what return taxpayers received – or did not receive -for their investment,” the lawsuit states.
The suit also alleges the agreement illegally uses “trade secrets” to hide details of the Visit Florida deal to have Pitbull serve as a tourism ambassador for Florida.
Corcoran says the terms of the confidential 11-page contract are “disgusting,” but he can’t reveal what he’s seen even though You Paid For It because it’s considered a trade secret.
“Here’s the irony … I can’t tell you either. That’s what the lawsuit’s about,” Corcoran said.
Corcoran plans to cut Visit Florida’s tourism promotion funding in the coming budget year but his first step is to force disclosure of the money taxpayers spent on Pitbull without having to face prosecution for spilling the so-called trade secrets that Pitbull insisted remain confidential.
“We’re suing Pitbull’s entertainment company and we’re saying to the court that we want a declaratory judgement that we can release that, and I don’t have to go to jail for five years if I do, and we will win and we will release the contract,” Corcoran said.
One of the most public manifestations of Pitbull’s confidential deal with Visit Florida financed by taxpayers is his risqué “Sexy Beaches” music video, which features the Latin pop star cavorting in and around Florida beaches and hotels with a bevy of scantily clad beach beauties.
The video and lyrics are PG-13 bordering on R. The song is aimed at young adults who shun traditional advertising, according to Visit Florida CEO Will Seccombe.
Seccombe has previously told 8 On Your Side Pitbull insisted on secrecy to protect the trade secrets associated with marketing his services. Seccombe insisted that Visit Florida would not sign similar contracts in the future due to the public outcry by Corcoran and others.
The speaker has become an outspoken critic of Visit Florida, the private marketing organization that receives about $78 million a year from the Florida Legislature to promote tourism and conventions.
“Why is government even in the business of paying for private companies advertising?” Corcoran questioned. “It makes no sense.”
Seccombe insists it makes perfect sense and points to Florida’s record year of tourism as proof that his marketing campaign is paying off for Florida’s economy.
The speaker cited other pressing needs in Florida such as failing schools and crumbling infrastructure that could make good use of the $50 million increase in funding that Visit Florida has received over the past six years. Making some of that tourism spending secret simply adds to his ire.
Visit Florida did not respond to repeated calls for comment Tuesday regarding Corcoran’s lawsuit and the speaker’s threatened budget cuts.
Meanwhile, Pitbull isn’t even part of the picture anymore. His contract expired last summer. Florida’s sexy beaches may still be here, but Pitbull has moved on to other ventures.
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