The multimillion-dollar tourism marketing agency that for decades has promoted the Florida Keys to tourists worldwide is under criminal investigation, the Monroe County State Attorney said Thursday.
The TDC failed an audit by the Monroe County Clerk’s Office, which was released Oct. 31, that found, “repeated noncompliance with Monroe County’s purchasing policy, … a lack of controls and management oversight, … appearances of potential self-dealing by certain employees as well as possibly one of the TDC’s agencies of record.”
“We’re in the process of hiring a forensic accounting firm,” Ward told The Keys Weekly on Nov. 9. “We want to follow through on some things and see what else is there.”
Ward’s announcement comes the day after the Monroe County Board of County Commissioners voted 5-0 to hire an outside accounting firm to take a deeper dive into TDC management practices.
“It’s not saying anybody’s guilty of anything,” said Commissioner Craig Cates, of Key West at the BOCC’s Nov. 8 meeting. “This is for transparency and the public’s trust.”
County commissioners also recommended the TDC board suspend – with pay – its marketing director Stacey Mitchell and bring in an outside firm to manage the agency.
Ward said, “The grand jury will probably have questions. We’ll see if the grand jury wants to subpoena people.”
The TDC board has scheduled a special meeting on the matter for Nov. 16 at the DoubleTree Resort in Key West.