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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Enterprise Florida's Bill Johnson hired second ex-port staffer as consultant; David Wilkins could earn up to $100K at EFI

Bill Johnson, the Enterprise Florida CEO who resigned in March, hired a second former PortMiami colleague for a high-paying job at the state's now-weakened public-private job creation partnership.

Contract details obtained by the Times/Herald show that Johnson hired Diana Gonzalez as a senior vice president at EFI at a salary of $60,000 for five months of work that ended in August of last year. Her company, DMG Consulting, was hired "to aid incoming CEO (Johnson) with transition," documents show. 

Johnson also hired former port spokeswoman Paula Musto for $158,000 to be his speechwriter. Musto's arrangement was first reported by the Naples Daily News.

Gov. Rick Scott announced on March 28 that Johnson was resigning, but Johnson has provided no letter of resignation -- a telltale sign that Scott demanded Johnson leave. Scott also called for an audit of EFI's expenses, including its travel and payroll, and he announced that former state child welfare secretary David Wilkins would conduct an independent review of Enterprise Florida's operations.

What Scott didn't say in March is that Wilkins' company, DTW Strategies, would be paid up to $100,000 to conduct that review. Documents show that Wilkins' company has been paid about $24,000 so far, at a billable rate of $150 an hour.

Johnson, 61, was Scott's hand-picked choice to run EFI, the agency that is most closely linked to the governor's job-creating agenda. But Johnson soon wore out his welcome with legislators, and the Florida House, principally Rep. Richard Corcoran, the speaker-designate, largely sealed Enterprise Florida's fate by rejecting Scott's call for a $250 million incentive fund in the 2016 session.

During his year at EFI, Johnson also hired consultant Peter Harris for $89,000 for a one-year contract as director of minority business at the agency.

[Last modified: Friday, May 27, 2016 12:20pm]


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