Visit Florida Chief Resigns amid Million-Dollar Pitbull Tourism Deal

Visit Florida CEO Will Seccombe announced his resignation Friday from the state’s tourism agency after revelations that the group paid pop superstar Pitbull $1 million to promote tourism in Florida.

Florida Governor Rick Scott asked for Seccombe’s resignation in a letter to Visit Florida’s board chairman William Talbert.

“I believe it would be best for the future efforts of Visit Florida for Will to step down and allow new leadership to come in at this critical time,” Scott wrote, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

Seccombe testified before a Florida Senate panel on Wednesday and praised the deal with Pitbull as a net positive investment for Florida taxpayers, and encouraged the Miami rapper to release details of the deal.

On Thursday, Pitbull shared a letter with his 23 million Twitter followers touting his agreement with the Sunshine State.

“It’s been an honor to represent Miami and the Sunshine State. I’ve taken Miami and Florida worldwide – WAY before any contract, and will do so way after. I love my home state,” Pitbull wrote on Twitter Thursday. “When asked to take on a New Year’s show, I INSISTED it be live from Florida. #LoveFL since birth . . . and til the day I die. Dale!”

Following a year-long legal battle between Pitbull’s production company and state lawmakers, it was revealed this week that the “Time of Our Lives” singer had signed the lucrative deal in July 2015. At the center of the deal was a $250,000 fee that Visit Florida agreed to pay Pitbull to produce a music video for his 2014 hit song “Sexy Beaches.”

Pitbull was also paid to promote the #LoveFL hashtag in various video and live performances.

Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran sued Pitbull’s production company, PDR Productions, which had kept details of the deal secret, citing a confidentiality clause.

A partially redacted version of the deal later surfaced online.

“It is unfortunate that it took litigation to lift the veil of secrecy on this particular contract,” Corcoran said in a press statement, adding:

This was a long unnecessary journey through claims of trade secrets, threats of prosecution, and corporate welfare paid for by taxpayers. The people’s House will not hesitate to use every tool at our disposal to protect the taxpayer and ensure transparency is the rule and not the exception in state government.

Two other top executives with Visit Florida also resigned on Friday.

Seccombe “will be working with the Visit Florida Board of Directors on next steps,” Visit Florida spokesman Tim DeClaire wrote in an email.

Follow Jerome Hudson on Twitter @jeromeehudson.


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