Saturday, December 16, 2017
Business

Gov. Rick Scott's jobs czar resigns over questions on jobless benefits he collected

TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott's chief job creator abruptly resigned Tuesday after less than eight months, following disclosures that he collected unemployment benefits while traveling in Europe before he was hired.

Hunting Deutsch quit his $140,000-a-year job as executive director of the Department of Economic Opportunity, the new agency created by Scott to coordinate Florida's job-creation efforts and attract new or expanding businesses. Scott now must find his third director of the agency in less than a year.

"I find the current media focus on my personal matters a distraction to the agency and your administration and believe it is best for me to leave," Deutsch wrote in a resignation letter to Scott dated Tuesday. His last day on the payroll will be Dec. 14.

Deutsch resigned while Scott is on a three-day trade mission to Bogota, Colombia, leading a delegation of nearly 200 people seeking to bolster economic ties between Florida and the Latin American nation.

Reached by the Associated Press, Deutsch refused to answer questions about the benefits.

"Quite frankly, it's a personal matter," Deutsch said.

The agency Deutsch ran distributes unemployment benefits to jobless workers in Florida, which unions and other worker advocates say are the stingiest in the country — at $275 a week for a maximum of 23 weeks.

Deutsch collected unemployment benefits for 91 weeks over a two-year period from 2009 to 2011 when he was traveling in Europe with his wife, according to the Florida Current, the online news site of LobbyTools.com, which broke the story Nov. 7.

The 91 weeks in benefits were eight short of the 99 he could have drawn because of emergency federal rules in place at the height of the national recession.

"I'm fortunate enough where I've worked for very successful companies for a long period of time and luckily sold all my bank stocks — most of them at the right time, at the right price — and quite frankly, didn't have to work," Deutsch told the Current. "So my wife and I took time off and traveled a great bit; we were in Europe several times."

Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, said Deutsch did the right thing by resigning.

"I think it was bad form for him to seek unemployment while he was off on a trip to Europe," Gaetz said. "I think those of us in public life should have a higher standard of performance."

Scott welcomed Deutsch to "our team" in April, praising his "strong and experienced background" as a senior executive in the banking industry, most recently at BankUnited in Miami, where he was executive vice president of wealth management. Deutsch also spent more than 20 years in a variety of posts at SunTrust Banks in Orlando.

Deutsch is the second executive director of DEO to depart following controversy.

The agency's first leader, Doug Darling, resigned in January under pressure from Scott's former chief of staff, Steve MacNamara, four days after Darling sent MacNamara a note complaining about excessive travel by the state film commissioner. Shari Kerrigan had been recruited to her post by MacNamara.

Times/Herald staff writer Mary Ellen Klas contributed to this report, which includes information from the Associated Press. Steve Bousquet can be reached at [email protected] or (850) 224-7263.

Comments

Bitcoin futures begin trading on CME, price little changed

NEW YORK — Another security based on the price of bitcoin, the digital currency that has soared in value and volatility this year, began trading on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange on Sunday. The CME Group, which owns the exchange, opened up bitcoin f...
Updated: 10 minutes ago
Fueled by indulgence and machismo, restaurants are a hotbed for sexual harassment

Fueled by indulgence and machismo, restaurants are a hotbed for sexual harassment

When Brenda Terry was 16 and living in St. Louis, she was a host and food runner at a sports bar where female employees wore cute little cheerleading skirts. One night, she said, a patron grabbed her crotch. She ran to her management team and they de...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Taxpayer subsidies of Tampa golf courses are on the rise as struggles continue

Taxpayer subsidies of Tampa golf courses are on the rise as struggles continue

TAMPA — For the half of the year that Harry Nichols lives in Oldsmar, he plays 18 holes several times a month at Rocky Point Golf Course. On a good day, Nichols said he shoots close to par on the Dana Shores course. And if he’s really lucky, it’ll on...
Published: 12/15/17
Updated: 12/16/17
Pigs can be therapy animals too. So can horses and rats and cats and llamas and … (w/video)

Pigs can be therapy animals too. So can horses and rats and cats and llamas and … (w/video)

Shrieks of laughter echoed off the walls of the hospital as Thunder the mini pig flopped onto his side and the children huddled around him, scratching his pink, hairy belly. He and his wet-nosed partner, Bolt, drew patients in wheelchairs and bandage...
Published: 12/15/17
Vology landlord challenges property tax assessment

Vology landlord challenges property tax assessment

LARGO — Eight months after paying $10.15 million for the office building that houses IT services company Vology, a New York company is suing the Pinellas County Property Appraiser and Florida Department of Revenue contending its $5.5 million tax asse...
Published: 12/15/17
Florida’s $1.1 billion Hardest Hit Fund winding down after some hard knocks

Florida’s $1.1 billion Hardest Hit Fund winding down after some hard knocks

In 2010, Florida was in the throes of an unprecedented housing crisis. One in every eight homes was in some stage of foreclosure. Today, the foreclosure rate is one in every 83. Because of that enormous drop, Florida’s Hardest Hit Fund will s...
Published: 12/15/17
Report: Rich will get still richer unless policies change

Report: Rich will get still richer unless policies change

By ELAINE KURTENBACHTOKYO — Global inequality has stabilized at high levels in recent years, a report said Friday, despite gains among the poor in China and much milder disparities in incomes and wealth in Western Europe. The World Inequality Report ...
Published: 12/15/17
How the Disney/Fox deal will shake up Hollywood

How the Disney/Fox deal will shake up Hollywood

Associated Press NEW YORK — After years of tremors, the earthquake that had long been predicted finally shook Hollywood. Disney’s deal to purchase most of 21st Century Fox ends the era of the "Big Six" major movie studios, toppling one ...
Published: 12/15/17
St. Petersburg’s Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement set to be complete in 2019

St. Petersburg’s Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement set to be complete in 2019

ST. PETERSBURG — The Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement, under construction since 2015, is scheduled to be complete by the summer of 2019.The five-story, 137,100-square-foot building will house businessman and collector Rudy Ciccarello’s...
Published: 12/15/17
Obamacare enrollment ends today, but some can get an extension

Obamacare enrollment ends today, but some can get an extension

Today is the day that open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act will close for most people. But those affected by the slew of hurricanes that pummelled Florida, Texas, Puerto Rico and other states earlier this year can take advantage of a two-week ...
Published: 12/15/17