Resignations demanded of statewide domestic violence board

By: Mike Vasilinda | Capitol News Service
February 17, 2020

Under state law, the Department of Children and Families is required to send all state money, $45 million a year, through the coalition.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CNS) — Directors at the majority of the state's domestic violence shelters are calling for the resignation of the statewide board that administers their funding after documents raised questions about the CEO’s compensation.

Writing they are shocked and concerned, 26 Domestic Violence Center directors are demanding the resignations of the Board overseeing the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

Over the last three years, the board paid CEO Tiffany Carr $7.5 million.

The money may have come from a questionable pay-to-play scheme.

Florida law requires membership in the coalition to receive state funding, but The Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence was also requiring local centers to return a portion of their annual budget to a fund not required by law.

“What was silent in the statute was whether there had to be a payment for membership status,” said Meg Baldwin with Refuge House.

Each of the 42 shelters were required to pay annual dues based on the funding they received from the state through the Coalition.

“I have been concerned about the implication that you somehow have to pay to be eligible for public funding,” said Baldwin.

In the case of the Refuge House, which serves eight North Florida counties, the annual dues were roughly equal to 10% of what the shelter received each month from the state.

“I don’t know if it was illegal, but it is against Federal policy, it is against state policy and it's just plain wrong that domestic violence centers have to pay to play,” said State Senator Aaron Bean.

The arrangement has caught the intention of the Governor’s Inspector General Melinda Miguel, who is looking into whether or not any laws were broken.

“On its face it's not really clear. It’s not clear yet. We’ve not received those records,” said Miguel.

The dues payments did not come from state funds, but money raised locally.

In the case of the North Florida center, it paid $10,000 in annual dues while receiving about a $100,000 a month in state funding.

Last year, the state sent more than $46 million through the coalition.

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