By Zach Arnold | May 1, 2014
The Orlando Sentinel recently published an article detailing a $100,000 political contribution made by Zuffa LLC (UFC) to the Republican Governor’s Association, earmarked for current Florida Governor Rick Scott. Rick Scott vs. Charlie Crist for the state’s Governorship is a political race from hell. Only Tallahassee could make Sacramento look competent.
The Sentinel report notes that the UFC made the donation while trying to re-write the state’s public records law for transparency. The donation was made on January 10th. Three weeks later, on January 31st, suddenly & magically a bill appeared in the state Senate. State senate bill 808:
Public Records/Florida State Boxing Commission; Providing an exemption from public records requirements for the information in the reports required to be submitted to the Florida State Boxing Commission by a promoter or obtained by the commission through audit of a promoter’s records; providing for future legislative review and repeal of the exemption; providing a statement of public necessity, etc.
So, what exactly is the UFC trying to hide from the press and from the public at large?
Here is the latest SB 808 bill text:
A bill to be entitled
An act relating to public records; creating s. 548.062, F.S.; providing an exemption from public records requirements for the information in the reports required to be submitted to the Florida State Boxing Commission by a promoter or obtained by the commission through audit of a promoter’s records; providing for future legislative review and repeal of the exemption; providing a statement of public necessity; providing a contingent effective date.
Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
Section 1. Section 548.062, Florida Statutes, is created to read:
548.062 Public records exemption.— (1) As used in this section, the term “proprietary confidential business information” means information that is owned or controlled by the promoter; that is intended by the promoter to be and is treated by the promoter as private in that the disclosure of the information would cause harm to the promoter or its business operations; that has not been disclosed unless disclosed pursuant to a statutory provision, an order of a court or administrative body, or a private agreement that provides that the information will not be released to the public; and that concerns any of the following:
(a) The number of ticket sales for a match.
(b) The amount of gross receipts after a match.
(c) Trade secrets as defined in s. 688.002.
(d) Business plans.
(e) Internal auditing controls and reports of internal auditors.
(f) Reports of external auditors.
(2) Proprietary confidential business information provided in the written report required to be filed with the commission after a match or obtained by the commission through an audit of the promoter’s books and records pursuant to s. 548.06 is confidential and exempt from s. 119.07(1) and s. 24(a), Art. I 38 of the State Constitution. Information made confidential and 39 exempt by this subsection may be disclosed to another 40 governmental entity in the performance of its duties and responsibilities.
(3) This section is subject to the Open Government Sunset Review Act in accordance with s. 119.15 and shall stand repealed on October 2, 2019, unless reviewed and saved from repeal 45 through reenactment by the Legislature.
Section 2. The Legislature finds that it is a public necessity that proprietary confidential business information be protected from disclosure. The disclosure of proprietary confidential business information could injure a promoter in the marketplace by giving the promoter’s competitors insights into its financial status and business plan, thereby putting the promoter at a competitive disadvantage. The Legislature also 53 finds that the harm to a promoter in disclosing proprietary confidential business information significantly outweighs any public benefit derived from disclosure of the information. For 56 these reasons, the Legislature declares that any proprietary confidential business information provided in the written report that is required to be filed with the commission after a match or obtained by the commission through an audit of the promoter’s books and records pursuant to s. 548.06, Florida Statutes, is confidential and exempt from s. 119.07(1), Florida Statutes, and s. 24(a), Article I of the State Constitution.
Section 3. This act shall take effect on the same date that SB 810 or similar legislation takes effect, if such legislation is adopted in the same legislative session or an extension thereof and becomes law.
Action is hot-and-heavy in both the state Senate and House to get this as passed as quickly as possible with pairing bills, leading to Governor Rick Scott to sign off. He gets campaign cash from the UFC, the UFC likely is promising to run more events in the state on regular basis, and the UFC gets more secrecy in shielding documents they have to submit to the athletic commission. If the UFC is promising to bring more fights to Florida (because there’s no state income tax), that means another state is going to lose out. Let me take a wild guess: California.
And the sadly amusing part is that Cynthia Hefren, who was appointed to be the state auditor examining the mess that Tom Molloy made when he was Executive Director, ended up with Molloy’s job and a big pay raise. She’s paid $90,000 a year. She’s making more than the athletic commission bosses in California or Texas and close to what Bob Bennett is going to get paid in Nevada!