Meet Tampa's Olivia Pope: Beth Leytham
Over the weekend we published an extensive profile of Beth Leytham, the Tampa public relations consultant whose work as a paid subcontractor on Go Hillsborough has come under fire of late.
Prior to the last few weeks, you might not ever have heard Leytham’s name, but she has been a mainstay behind the scenes for more than a decade.
A decent chunk of Leytham’s business is helping companies conduct public outreach or managing and advising their media relations strategies. But it is her crisis management skills that are highly sought-after by private companies and government agencies. As we wrote in the story: “When cracks were discovered under the Memorial Causeway Bridge in 2004, the bridge builder called Leytham to manage the fallout. When an elevated span of the Lee Roy Selmon Crosstown Expressway collapsed, the Expressway Authority brought in Leytham to rebuild public trust. When former Tampa Port Authority chairman William ‘Hoe’ Brown was discovered to be a slumlord, Leytham helped him clean up his mess.”
Some people we interviewed described her as Tampa’s Olivia Pope, the Kerry Washington character on ABC’s “Scandal.” Based on the aforementioned examples, you can see why the comparison might be fitting (though on a much smaller — and less salacious — scale).
But her employment in both the private and public sectors, coupled with her close friendships and free campaign work for elected officials, has drawn criticism, too — especially her involvement on Go Hillsborough, the county's proposed sales tax increase for transportation referendum. Our profile looks at that issue as well as other times she has operated in gray areas.
Click here to read about Leytham’s rise to Tampa Bay’s “Damage Control Queen” and the current controversy that has staggered Go Hillsborough and has her in damage control mode herself.