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Domestic violence shelters raise concerns of funding levels

Advocates alarmed after investigation launched into state’s clearing house for domestic violence funds

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 locally operated domestic violence shelters are concerned about funding after the governor ordered an investigation into the statewide nonprofit that distributes money from the state to the local level.

It made for a bittersweet Valentine’s Day at the Refuge House, an organization that provides support and resources to victims and survivors of domestic violence from eight counties across North Florida.

“The concerns of many of the program directors across the state are acute,” Director Meg Baldwin said.

In 2004, lawmakers said funding for local shelters would be distributed by unnamed nonprofit. In 2012, they selected the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence to handle that responsibility.

In that role, the organization was the sole conduit of $46 million in state funds circulated to local shelters. The group paid Tiffany Carr, its former chief executive officer, a salary of $761,000 a year. She might have also gotten as much as $74 million over three years in other compensation.

“The well-being of survivors of domestic violence depends on there being the strictest integrity at every level,” Baldwin said.

Until this week, the nonprofit refused to turn over financial documents to the state. State Rep. Scott Plakon is the House sponsor of legislation that will take FCADV out of the status as the sole conduit for funding.

“This whole organization is a cascading train wreck of apparent corruption and abuse of taxpayer dollars,” said Plakon.

All 42 shelter directors will be meeting by phone on Saturday. They want to make sure those on the front lines aren’t painted by the alleged sins of the statewide administrator.

The House Public Integrity committee has already voted to subpoena FCADV board members and staff. The Full House will vote to issue the subpoenas next week.