Report: Visit Florida spent money on questionable contracts

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) – Florida’s embattled tourism agency handed out multi-million contracts to a federal partnership run by a former agency executive and for a cooking show with celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse.

Visit Florida offered few details about what the state received in return for the $9.1 million paid to the Brand USA federal partnership led by Christopher L. Thompson, The Naples Daily News reported Saturday.

Thompson once ran Visit Florida and hired the agency executive who later gave Thompson’s Brand USA contracts for international advertising.

Visit Florida, which is in charge of spending money to lure tourists to the state, is already under fire for the state’s secret $1 million deal with rapper Pitbull.

Pitbull released the contract in the wake of a lawsuit filed by the Florida House. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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