Still few details about governor's Paris trip - New York News

Still few details about governor's Paris trip

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Photo courtesy Gov. Scott's office. Photo courtesy Gov. Scott's office.
TAMPA (FOX 13) -

Most of us would love to visit Paris, but few can afford such an expensive trip. But what if you didn't have to pay, and the tab was picked up by your employer? 

That was the case for some state employees and taxpayers picked up the bill.

LINK: List of participants (PDF)

Governor Scott took the group overseas on what was a called a business development mission to set up a booth and attend the Paris Airshow.

The total cost of the trip was $332,000 and the majority of the money came from taxpayers. 

Most travelers we spoke with had mixed emotions -- envy and anger. 

"How much work can you do in Paris?" Scott Frank wondered as he waited to catch a flight to Cleveland from Tampa International.

"I'd love to go to Paris," offered Diana Saxton, who was headed to Philadelphia.  "I don't think much work was getting done, but I'm sure they had a good time."

The overseas trade mission doesn't fly with some Florida lawmakers either.

"We don't need to be doing it in Paris at the airshow or any other foreign country. Florida is a great place to do business and that's where the work needs to be done," insisted Representative Dwight Dudley, D-St. Petersburg.

The governor's office says plenty of work was done in Paris and contends that several new deals were signed over there, and the trip led to hundreds of new leads in the high-paying aerospace industry.

Supporters, like the group Florida TaxWatch, say trade missions like Paris are an important part of developing business relationships, but Representative Dudley isn't buying it.

"I believe the real work gets done in Florida in Tampa and Orlando and Miami and Jacksonville.  Not in Paris, not touring museums and taking trips up the Eiffel Tower.

FOX13 requested the records two months ago and we were provided no detailed information, just a one-page breakdown of expenses.

LINK: Revenue & expenses from governor's office (PDF)

We showed the information provided to us to Dan Krassner from Integrity Florida, a watchdog group in Tallahassee.  He doesn't like what he sees and is even more concerned by what he doesn't see.

"Where are the receipts? How do we know how much they are spending on meals and hotels?"

Enterprise Florida funded the majority of the trip. Krassner says his research shows more than three quarters of the group's funding comes directly from taxpayers. 

Enterprise Florida says every dollar spent in Paris is expected to generate a $521 return for the state, plus many new jobs.

"Produce a contract and show us where a deal was signed in Paris and how Floridians are getting jobs," added Krassner. "We're not buying it. It's time for another audit of Enterprise Florida."

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