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Governor orders investigation into head of anti-domestic violence organization

The coalition, which received $46.7 million in funding, oversees domestic violence programs in Florida

Tiffany Carr, former executive director of Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence, left, speaks at a news conference held by Gov. Jeb Bush, right, to announce a public awareness campaign designed to prevent disaster-related domestic violence, Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2004, in Tallahassee, Fla.  (AP Photo/Phil Coale)
Tiffany Carr, former executive director of Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence, left, speaks at a news conference held by Gov. Jeb Bush, right, to announce a public awareness campaign designed to prevent disaster-related domestic violence, Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2004, in Tallahassee, Fla. (AP Photo/Phil Coale) (Associated Press)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida’s 42 Domestic Violence Shelters are on pins and needles as the state opens two investigations into Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the non-profit the funnels state money to the shelters.

In a strongly worded memo, Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered his inspector general Melinda Miguel to look into the spending practices of the FCADV’s “exorbitant compensation payouts” and “abuse of state dollars” to determine if any criminal wrongdoing has occurred at the organization.

Former CEO Tiffany Carr was paid at least $761,000 a year, but there were other perks that could drive that number much higher.

The House also voted to subpoena 14 individuals who have worked at the organization to further dig into how Carr was able to receive millions of dollars in compensation for her work at the coalition. Carr is among those who were subpoenaed by the House, News Service of Florida reported.

House Public Integrity and Ethics committee staff director Don Rubottom told News Service of Florida that, after reviewing documents the organization turned over Wednesday night, it “appeared” Carr received $4.2 million in paid time off between July 2013 through her resignation in October 2019.

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

“It puts the department in a very difficult position,” said DCF Secretary Chad Poppel.

News4Jax spoke to Poppel as he left the Governor’s office Thursday.

“A vendor can basically tell us they are not going to agree to our terms and we have to give them the money anyway,” said Poppel.

Sen. Aaron Bean is moving legislation to give DCF control of the funding.

“My immediate priority is to pass this bill,” said Bean.

The House will take a rare step subpoenaing more records and all of the coalitions board members.

“We need to get to the truth. For 20 months we’ve been stonewalled, not being given any information,” said Rep. Tom Leek, who chairs the House Public Integrity and Ethics Committee.

Attorney Mark Herron was hired by the FCDAV Wednesday.

“Interface with the committee as well to do an internal investigation into what went on,” said Herron.

Local shelters said they depend on monthly checks from the coalition to keep running and assert any delay in those checks could result in fewer victims being helped.

Also under investigation is a contract provision between local shelters and the coalition that required the shelters to pay dues twice a year.