Eckerd Connects says preliminary Inspector General report lacks context
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OIG says it's just a list, not an accusation of wrongdoing.

Another nonprofit under contract with the Department of Children and Families says the preliminary Office of Inspector General report on executive pay is lacking context.

The report stems from the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence scandal, which found the DCF-contracted organization had paid ex-CEO Tiffany Carr more than $7 million over three years.

In the wake of the scandal, Gov. Ron DeSantis directed Inspector General Melinda Miguel to compile and investigate contract data relating to other public-private entities in Florida.

Miguel’s preliminary report, released Monday, showed as many as nine nonprofits receiving state funds are paying top executives more than the state allows — currently, 150% of the DCF Secretary’s annual salary. However, two of those organizations say the report is misleading.

The first was Citrus Health Network, which pushed back against the allegations Wednesday.

Eckerd Connects, an organization that provides adoption, fostering and community-based care services, followed on Thursday.

“It is unfortunate the media’s preliminary reporting of the Inspector General’s report on executive compensation does not reflect an accurate portrait of Eckerd Connects’ compensation practices. Eckerd Connects has not had a chance yet to meet with the Inspector General to provide additional and clarifying information,” Eckerd Connects board chair V. Raymond Ferrara said.

“We believe Eckerd Connects is complying with state requirements, and we look forward to cooperating fully with Office of Inspector General in their review. As an organization dedicated to serving over 40,000 families across 20 states each year, many factors contribute to the salary figures reflected in the report, to include the fact our CEO’s compensation is not allocated to the community-based care contracts.”

The mischaracterization stems from what money is used to pay nonprofit CEOs or other executives, as the limit only applies to state dollars. The organizations may use funding from other sources however they wish.

Miguel on Thursday reiterated that the report was only a preliminary look and not an accusation of wrongdoing, as insinuated in some media coverage.

She said the report only covers the first two steps of the Governor’s order. The first requires state agencies to submit a list of organizations with a statutory sole-source agreement and those that receive more than 50% of their annual funding from the state.

The second step requires state agencies to obtain and review copies of the IRS Form 990 and other documentation for each organization on the list.

“No investigation has been initiated at this time,” Miguel said, adding that it has received and reviewed preliminary documents from 22 state agencies.

“While preliminary information has been received, the CIG is not in receipt of any referrals for investigation from any agency at this time,” she said. “Just to be clear, the intent for the CIG’s preliminary report is to show where we may receive a request for further review or verification. However, nothing within the document is final.”

Miguel expects the final report to be completed by June 30.

Drew Wilson

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for Florida Politics. He is a former editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and business correspondent at The Hollywood Reporter. Wilson, a University of Florida alumnus, covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools and The Florida Current prior to joining Florida Politics.

One comment

  • Sonja Fitch

    January 29, 2021 at 3:32 am

    More bs from private contractors using and abusing tax payer dollars! If any ceo salaries are listed in the budget of the contract and the salary of the ceo VIOLATED the ceo standard then you private contractors stole tax dollars! Give back the tax dollars or go to jail for fraud!

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