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Monday, December 19, 2016

Ind. Gov't. - Hoosier Lottery denies access to details, including cost, of contract with crooner; possibly similar deal in Florida leads to resignations

Indiana Gaming Insight's final issue of 2016 ($$) features its efforts to obtain details of a contract between the Hoosier Lottery and:

... Josh Kaufman, the Hoosier resident who won the sixth season of the popular NBC show The Voice, ... teaming up on the release of a new holiday song, written by Kaufman, called Home for the Holidays.

The song is being played in commercials for the Hoosier Lottery’s Holiday Scratch-off campaign, with the Lottery hoping that it will catch on like the still-recognized Hoosier Holiday Millionaire ditty dating back a few decades.

The story continues [ILB emphasis]:
We [Ind. Gaming Insight] wanted to bring you details about the contract, but the Hoosier Lottery has denied our request for a copy or any of the specific details we inquired about (including how much it cost the Lottery) claiming that “the contract with Josh Kauffman [sic] qualifies as a ‘trade secret’ and therefore the details cannot be released.” * * *

We appealed the initial denial to the Lottery and were told that the contract “is not maintained by the Hoosier Lottery but was entered into by a subcontractor of the Lottery (Mortenson Safer Kim) and J.A. Kaufman Inc” (recall that Kaufman talked about working “with the Hoosier Lottery” in creating the song, in a statement was released by the Lottery, not by his or a contractor’s PR firm).

Of course, numerous rulings have found that the State cannot interpose a third-party contractor exercising the authority of the state to avoid disclosure — and the Lottery seemed to be clear at the time it entered into the private management integrated services agreement (not quite part of this contract) that it would favor full transparency.

Subcontractors are specifically included in the management agreement and must turn over documents to the Lottery.

But the Lottery’s denial of our request to bring you the details included a memo from Kaufman’s management agency claiming that “we cannot disclose privately contracted fees without adversely affecting our ability to negotiate future agreements.” And while the management agency cites Indiana court cases on trade secrets with respect to private entities, there is no reference to trade secrets as part of agreements with state entities involving (arguably) state funds, which carry with it different obligations and public policy arguments.

The Lottery would not even provide us with a copy of the contract redacted to withhold details that they currently contend are confidential. The Access to Public Records Act, however, specifically mentions that a document cannot be withheld in full if only part of it is claimed to be confidential.

The Lottery’s decision to designate the contract amount as containing “trade secrets” and “confidential financial information” that is “prohibited” from disclosure does not seem to comport with the public policy behind both the APRA and state procurement law, which calls for the release of detailed financial proposals submitted by successful contractors, as well as the contracts and substantive responses.

Meanwhile, the Orlando Sentinel reported Dec. 17th that the "Visit Florida" CEO and two other executives had resigned following news of the cost of a possibly similar promotion deal, with rapper Pitbull. A few quotes from the story:
"Visit Florida" CEO Will Seccombe agreed to resign Friday and two other top executives with the tourism promotion group left their jobs in the wake of revelations the agency paid Miami rapper Pitbull $1 million to market tourism in the state.

Gov. Rick Scott called for Seccombe resignation and a series of transparency measures in a letter to Visit Florida board chairman William Talbert. * * *

Pitbull, whose real name is Armando Christian Perez, posted his 2015 contract with the state on Twitter on Thursday, revealing he was paid $1 million in taxpayer dollars to promote Florida in social media posts, at his concerts and in a music video called “Sexy Beaches.”

The move came two days after House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’Lakes, filed suit in Leon Circuit Court against PDR Productions, Pitbull’s management company, to unveil contract details, which had been kept secret for more than a year.

Scott’s letter also called for a series of measures aimed at increasing transparency at Visit Florida. The group should publish reports on its spending, return on investment statistics, employee salaries, audits and contract and vendor details, he wrote.

Visit Florida officials announced the one-year deal with Pitbull in September 2015. When the Orlando Sentinel and other news media outlets asked for the contract, nearly all of it was redacted.

Visit Florida officials said Pitbull had declared details like how much he was paid, his duties under the contract and even his agent’s name trade secrets exempt from Florida’s public record laws, even though Visit Florida receives tens of millions of dollars in tax money every year.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on December 19, 2016 10:00 AM
Posted to Indiana Government