Corruption Investigation Goes National, PR Exec Says Tallahassee Brand Could Be Hurt

Corruption Investigation Goes National, PR Exec Says Tallahassee Brand Could Be Hurt

While Tallahassee waits for more information from the FBI about their investigation into corruption, on Tuesday the USA Today published an article on their national website detailing the undercover operation. The article entitled “FBI agents went undercover in Florida’s capital for the ‘biggest investigation in years” is accompanied by the picture of three people with blurred faces.

The USA Today has a national circulation of approximately 4 million readers and their Facebook site has over 8 million “likes.”

The front page of USA Today website below.


While the article does not reveal much new information for locals who have been following the story, what the writing of journalist Sean Rossman does do is provide a perspective from retired FBI undercover agent James Wedick who has worked hundreds of public corruption cases at all levels of government.

Wedick told Rossman, “It’s very big. Public corruption is one of the one violations that the bureau is best at handling. We’ve got the money, resources and agents to do it and we’ve got the people that understand the crime.”

Wedick also said that the FBI must have something on Tallahassee to employ an undercover agent for so long. Agents, he said, must prove the worth of their investigation to the U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI national office every six months.

“The fact that it went two years says that, to me, that he had sufficient information in there for them to justify the two-year period, and that’s a pretty high standard.”

The Local Impact of the Investigation

The story in the USA Today hit the same day that local PR executive, Ron Sachs, sent out an electronic survey testing the public’s knowledge of the investigation. One of the questions is shown below. The question below also allowed the respondent to enter individual names.


Sachs said that respondents to the survey were well aware of the investigation and indicated that fallout from the operation could hurt Tallahassee’s brand. These findings come as community leaders try to zero in on a brand that would improve the economic fortunes of Tallahassee.

As the public fall out from the investigation continues to cast a cloud over Tallahassee, at what point do citizens deserve answers from public officials?

It is clear from sources close to the investigation that Mayor Andrew Gillum and City Commissioner Scott Maddox know more than others. How long will Tallahassee have to wait until these elected leaders explain what they know about this two year investigation?

16 Responses to "Corruption Investigation Goes National, PR Exec Says Tallahassee Brand Could Be Hurt"

  1. Already left Tallahassee. Twenty plus years of watching it go down the tubes. Where was the aptly named Tallahassee Democrat. Must be tough when you have to cover (up) corruption.

  2. Human resources already knows about most of the allegations Ellen Blair was told back in middle of July she is Rick Fernandez his right hand to hide his Dirty Deeds. There has been water lines installed swimming pools worked on by water utility employees for mr. Fernandez. Ellen was told managers taking off not using their leave time have been waiting to see if she was going to investigate I see that she has not she just swept it under the rug. Water utility employees working at hilaman golf course better known as Rick’s private club underground utility employees should be working on the the Aging water line infrastructure instead of beautifying hilaman Golf Course for Rick.

  3. It’s not the fallout from the investigation that will hurt Tallahassees brand, but the fact that the elected officials acted in a manner that resulted in the need for the investigation. Ron Sachs is essentially blaming the FBI, when the blame is clearly on the officials responsible.

  4. Tallahassee really doesnt hav a brand outside Tallahassee. And there are plenty of locals perfectly fine with that. Too much growth brings big city problems. We are already starting to see some of that. Crime is through the roof, taxes are going up and up. I would rather keep it a medium sized town, We need another 100,000 people in Tallahassee like we need a hole in the head.

  5. Tallahassee was a great place to grow up as I did. Now I live in a surrounding county where taxes are lower and the comissioners are much easier to reach. As for the block voting, happens all the time in certain communities probably because they are 99% one party and can’t break the mold.

    1. I am a native Tallahasseean and have witnessed the deterioration of this town. As I near retirement, my wife and I are looking to retire in Tennessee. I never thought that would happen, but I know how corrupt officials can destroy a town. We have become the Detroit or Chicago of the South!

      1. Anhaica, sadly my wife and I have much the same situation and similar attitude as you. After eleven years of living in a nice area of Tallahassee, we are leaving soon on an exploratory trip to another community, and if we like it well enough, we’re only coming back here to pull up stakes and go. Although every city and town has corruption to some degree, watching the embedded corruption grow in Tallahassee to this nationally known extent has forced us to scratch it off our list of retirement areas. Suggested slogan: “Tallahassee: Where corruption outgrows our trees.”

  6. So what has changed from one administration to another ? Block voting by certain groups put these folks in power and continue so , no matter what they do . Correctable? I doubt it, unless this FBI probe really turns into a tangible free for all and voters simply have to change their prospective on local (and national ) government or totally destroy such a fine capital city by creating resident flight to more compatible commutites !!

  7. Very happy to hear that the FBI has spent two years here gathering information and evidence. Sadly, on the question of “Will this FBI investigation hurt Tallahassee’s brand?” the first response would be “By this time, what could possibly help?”.
    Aside from the local corruption now being nationally published, we still have Florida’s (the 3rd most populated state in America) WORST single reputation for violent crime, ultra-high taxes and utility rates.

    City leaders, please forget creating fuzzy, feel-good little campaigns and slogans to identify Tallahassee’s “brand” – we have a “brand” right now – and it is nationally atrocious!
    Tallahassee has so much basic, fundamental work to do on crime rates, government corruption and increasing taxes before we ever get to the fancy slogan stage. Stop trying to sell the stupid sizzle and get to work fixing the steak first!

    1. Cops don’t have time to fight crime. They’re too busy generating revenue for the city writing citations for not wearing seat belts at $123 a pop.

  8. Didn’t some of our elected officials go to New York in an attempt to lure Jet Blue to Tallahassee? I am curious if a FBI agent went with them as well.

  9. I have friends in the Midwest and the Pacific Coast who are aware of this investigation and they keep asking if there have been any new developments! Our elected officials with the City will not tell us anything until they find out what the FBI has on them. After all, that is what all criminals do!

  10. But wait, we have an international airport so we’re a very vibrant city well suited for economic development opportunities…

      1. Meanwhile local “usual suspect” funded local news outlets are still despertally and pathectly trying to keep a lid on the biggest correption scandle ever in The Capital City and give their beloved “usual suspects” cover and spin whenever possable.
        Do not under estimate their power many people we respect are not aware of Tallahassee Reports and feed only on the teat of local “usual suspect” funded media outlets.

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