Three weeks after a Tallahassee Reports exclusive about the state lobbyist led Big Bend Minority Chamber of Commerce (BBMCC) hiring newly elected Florida House member Ramon Alexander, Mr. Alexander has resigned from the $50,000 a year position.
On January 9th, 2017 the Tallahassee Democrat reported that Ramon Alexander, a freshman state representative elected this past November, was hired as President and CEO of the Big Bend Minority Chamber of Commerce (BBMCC) with an annual salary of $50,000.
However, the Tallahassee Democrat article did not address the connections between the BBMCC Board, Mr. Alexander and the Florida Legislature. The Tallahassee Democrat is listed on the BBMCC website as a corporate sponsor.
On January 16th, 2017, TR verified, through the state maintained 2016 lobbyist database, that the BBMCC Board of Directors was composed of five members that were registered to lobby the Florida House of Representatives.
The five lobbyists were Sean Pittman (32 clients), Lila Jaber (10 clients), Chuck Cliburn (8 clients), Bryan Anderson (employed by and lobbyist for HCA Health Care) and John Thomas (employed by and lobbyist for Florida League of Cities).
The BBMCC also listed specific state legislative priorities on their website. These priorities included tax reform, employment discrimination and an increase in the minimum wage.
In addition, Tallahassee Reports also verified that Ramon Alexander’s campaign for the House seat he now occupies paid ESP Media, a company owned by lobbyist Sean Pittman, approximately $150,000 for services. Pittman was also listed as a donor to Alexander’s campaign.
The hiring of Alexander came after House Speaker Richard Corcoran had made it clear one of his priorities was lobbying reform. He had previously told Politico, “We need to restore the distance between those who seek to influence the laws and those of us who make the laws.”
Sean Pittman, the founder of BBMCC and state lobbyists, told the Tallahassee Democrat after Alexander’s resignation that “under the current environment of the Legislature, I completely understand why he would feel it necessary to take a backseat instead of a front seat with the chamber.”
The resignation was first reported by the Tallahassee Democrat. The Tallahassee Democrat did not cite the investigative findings previously published by Tallahassee Reports.