1. News

Tampa Bay jobs chief Ed Peachey making top dollar

Edward Peachey, president and CEO, CareerSource Tampa Bay and CareerSource Pinellas, has now come under fire from Gov. Rick Scott. He is calling on the boards of directors at both agencies to call emergency meetings to deal with allegations of inflated job numbers. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times]
Published Jan. 26, 2018

For years, Edward Peachey has bragged about the number of jobless people he has helped find work.

As president and CEO of CareerSource Pinellas and CareerSource Tampa Bay, he's in charge of the two main government agencies that provide training to the unemployed and help them land jobs. And as Peachey likes to tell people, his agencies routinely lead the other 20 similar programs around Florida in job placements, according to numbers he reports to the state.

The non-profit boards who supervise him have rewarded him financially based on those numbers. He was paid $291,097* in 2016, more than most other public figures in the region.

"I did not know he was making that much money," Hillsborough County Commissioner Victor Crist said of Peachey. "Pay is commensurate with authority, responsibility and liability. He's not running an international airport."

Peachey is paid more than any of his counterparts around the state. In some cases, much more.

His staff's salaries have also jumped during his tenure.

Now the Department of Economic Opportunity wants to see if Peachey has been inflating his numbers, the same numbers he has trotted out to convince his bosses he is worth paying so much.

• • •

Peachey, 54, has led CareerSource Pinellas since 2003. In 2010, he agreed to take over CareerSource Tampa Bay in Hillsborough County after a spending scandal forced out the prior leader.

At the time, he was making a combined $189,517 from both jobs, according to federal tax records.

A small subset of the Pinellas County CareerSource board negotiated Peachey's last contract with him in 2015. They discussed how to justify his salary.

Board member and hotel owner Lenne Nicklaus-Ball said she wanted to pay Peachey as much as possible because of his record, according to an audio recording of the meeting.

"Ed does a great job," Nicklaus-Ball said. "He works like 70 to 80 hours a week, maybe 100. We're way ahead of everyone. Ed knows where the state is going."

But board chairman Aundre Green, an executive at General Dynamics Ordinance and Tactical Systems, questioned the 16 percent raise and additional 20 percent for running two boards.

"I don't want to be faced with questions from either the board or from the press," Green said on the recording, "and have us in the position of where we can't answer them."

Peachey urged Green to consider how the agencies routinely top the leader board compared to the other programs around the state when it comes to job placements.

"That's what you have to look at," he replied. "Are we doing what the state and feds want us to do? Are we effective? I think the answer to that is yes."

Attempts to reach Peachey for comment Friday and Saturday were unsuccessful.

• • •

The two offices received a total of $32 million in 2016 in mostly federal money to help people find work, a number that has declined by $6 million in the past three years as the economy has recovered.

In those same years, both agencies combined have reported helping place more than 126,000 people into jobs, according to a state database.

The boards that set Peachey's salary include volunteer representatives of business, labor and education, and one county commissioner. County commissioners approve those appointments.

The Pinellas board has 44 slots and Career Source Tampa Bay currently has 29 members.

Both agencies operate under rules set by the state and federal government and report their job placement numbers weekly to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.

Pinellas commissioners recently began questioning the lack of information they receive from Peachey. They noted that he routinely gives them names of candidates to put on the board, without offering their qualifications and said he never shows up to answer questions.

"I've been on this commission for five years," said Janet Long. "Mr. Peachey has never come to us to advocate for any of the things that they are doing."

• • •

Peachey is given wide latitude on how he runs the agencies and is in charge of setting salaries and duties for his employees.

The number of people who work at both agencies was not immediately available, but Peachey placed it at 300 during the 2015 contract negotiations.

Figures for both show payroll has increased sharply even as demand for services has declined. Annual audits that each CareerSource regional office files with the DEO show that the payroll for the agency rose by $3 million, to $14.5 million between 2014 and 2016.

Job placements actually fell in both counties by 17 percent in the last three years. Grant levels from the federal government fell as well, by 22 percent in Hillsborough.

"I am concerned about the transparency and accountability of the process," said Pinellas County Commissioner Ken Welch.

Meanwhile, his board members pay Peachey as though he's working two full-time jobs.

Pamela Nabors, the CEO and president of CareerSource Central Florida, which includes metro Orlando and serves a population similar to Pinellas and Hillsborough, made $186,000 in 2016, an amount that had only increased by $5,000 in three years.

CareerSource Northeast Florida, which serves a slightly smaller population, paid its CEO $148,000 in 2016.

Late Friday, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity's Office of the Inspector General launched an investigation days after the Tampa Bay Times asked about whether the Pinellas and Hillsborough career centers had properly reported job placements.

The amount of federal money the agencies receive is determined, in part, by the number of job placements they report.

Contact Mark Puente at or (727) 892-2996. Follow @MarkPuente

* This story has been updated to reflect the following changes: Edward Peachey earned $291,097 in total compensation in 2016, according to the agency's payroll records which the Times received Friday. This article, based on federal Form 990 tax records, had previously overstated how much he earned. Due to that error, the article also incorrectly reported Peachey's salary increase since 2010 and also that he earned more than Tampa International Airport CEO Joe Lopano.


  1. The city of Tampa has given notice that it plans to take over the McKay Bay waste-to-energy plant shown in this 2001 photo. Tampa Bay Times
    The city has given its contractor eight months notice that it plans to take control of the facility that turns trash into energy.
  2. This Oct. 12, 2019 photo made available by NASA shows the comet 2I/Borisov, seen by the Hubble Space Telescope. It’s the second known interstellar visitor to swoop through our backyard. An amateur astronomer from Crimea, Gennady Borisov, discovered the comet in August, two years after the first alien guest, a cigar-shaped rock, popped up. (NASA, ESA, D. Jewitt (UCLA) via AP) SPACE TELESCOPE SCIENCE INSTITUTE OFFICE OF PUBLIC OUTREACH  |  AP
    This comet from outside our solar system is zooming by at a blistering 110,000 mph.
  3. FILE - This June 27, 2019, file photo President Donald Trump's Twitter feed is photographed on an Apple iPad in New York. Amid calls from some Democrats to suspend Trump's account, Twitter says world leaders' accounts aren't entirely above its policies and that it will enforce those policies on any account that violates rules, such as promoting terrorism. J. DAVID AKE  |  AP
    The company’s announcement this week expands on its policy governing those tweets.
  4. Investigators say the women then took the man back to his hotel room where he passed out. SUE OGROCKI  |  AP
    The unidentified man was approached by the women while at the slot machines at the Hard Rock Casino in Hollywood.
  5. Shirley Joseph is named superintendent of Madison County public schools. Madison County school district
    The previous superintendent resigned amid conflicts with the School Board.
  6. President Donald Trump meets with Italian President Sergio Mattarella in the Oval Office of the White House, Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019, in Washington. EVAN VUCCI  |  AP
    “It’s not between Turkey and the United States, like a lot of stupid people would like you to believe,” Trump said.
  7. In this image from a Pinellas County school district video, former School Board member Lee Benjamin motions to someone he knows while sitting with family members during at 2013 ceremony to name the Northeast High School gymnasium in his honor. Mr. Benjamin was the school's first basketball coach in 1954 and later became Northeast's principal in a long career with Pinellas schools that included 14 years on the School Board. He died Wednesday at age 92. Pinellas County Schools
    He was a teacher, coach and eventually the principal of Northeast High in St. Petersburg. Then he became a district administrator and later, a School Board member.
  8. FILE - In this Oct. 9, 2019, file photo, Yolanda Jacobs, a United Auto Workers member, walks the picket line at the General Motors Romulus Powertrain plant in Romulus, Mich. With the strike by factory workers against General Motors in its 29th day on Monday, Oct. 14, there are signs that negotiators may be moving toward an agreement. PAUL SANCYA  |  AP
    Details of the four-year agreement have yet to be released.
  9. Hernando County School District
    Local officials’ requests for legislators also include sewer project funding and teacher bonus reforms.
  10. A South Florida developer plans a condo tower on the parking lot between the Northern Trust building, left, and the Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront. SUSAN TAYLOR MARTIN  |  Susan Taylor Martin
    South Florida company plans a 35-story tower next to a Hilton hotel.