Orange County seeks financial information from now-dissolved onePULSE Foundation
(image Coldefy & Associés with RDAI/onePULSE Foundation)

Pulse Museum
More than $10 million in public funding was dedicated to building a museum remembering the Pulse shooting.

Orange County officials want financial documents from the recently dissolved onePULSE Foundation.

At an Orange County Commission meeting, county leaders said the collapse of the organization, which formed in the wake of the 2016 Pulse shooting, has prompted anger and frustration. The foundation originally intended to build a museum open to the public to remember the shooting, but the organization earlier this month canceled any plans to do so.

“As a county, we have to do our due diligence,” said Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings. “Because of the contractual relationship we had with the expenditures of the people’s money, and going forward given the dissolution that is underway, there are some contractual things that have to take place.”

The OnePULSE Foundation voted to dissolve last week. Orange County Comptroller Phil Diamond said the county was asking the organization for a number of financial documents related to the use of public funding for the project.

Orange County in 2018 voted to provide $10 million for the design and construction of a museum. The state of Florida also allocated $500,000. Not all of that money was spent, but the foundation did go through $6.5 million in county dollars and pulled $400,000 from the state grant.

Diamond said there were no immediate concerns raised about the real estate deals conducted by the organization.

George Kalogridis, vice chair of the foundation, defended the organization, and said financial support for the foundation’s mission was tremendous in the immediate aftermath of the shooting. But corporate interest waned when it came to funding the ongoing financial obligations of running a museum.

He defended the lengthy research into the plans for a museum, which included visiting the 9/11 memorial and other sites around the country.

“We did an amazing job making sure to spend time in different cities where these tragedies had taken place to understand what works, what didn’t work,” he said.

But county commissioners said decisions that have become clear in the last month raise concerns about the use of public money, which ultimately made up the bulk of the $20 million raised by the foundation over the last seven years.

“It’s very frustrating and disappointing to be at this point here today,” said County Commissioner Mayra Uribe. She thanked foundation members for addressing the board but criticized many of their moves.

“I know that your service to this board was well-intended, but what we’ve learned and unfolded over the few weeks, almost a month, that the media has also shared, it’s very disappointing that such poor decisions were made along the process. I will be honest, I’m so frustrated and hurt because this is a tragedy that took place seven and a half years ago.”

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].



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