Published on Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Visit Florida slashes CEO salary

It is understood that the new CEO of Visit Florida will be paid $120,000 less than his predecessor Will Seccombe, who resigned following criticism over a secret $1 million payment to Miami superstar rapper Pitbull to promote the state in music videos and on social media.

Seccombe has been replaced by Ken Lawson, pictured, the Florida state governor's secretary of business and professional regulation.

The 31-member board of directors of Visit Florida, who voted unanimously in favour of Lawson's appointment as president and CEO, also agreed a $73,000 severance package for Seccombe, who was earning a salary of $293,000.

Both he and the tourism body had come under fire for the secret contract with Pitbull, even though Seccombe claimed it helped Visit Florida reach millions of music fans. Lawmakers have also become increasingly concerned about Visit Florida's spending.

It is understood that Lawson, a qualified lawyer, will be paid $120,000 less than Seccombe. After his appointment, Lawson said: "We have things to do and we are going to do it together."

Lawson has limited tourism experience, but he is believed to be a favourite of state governor Rick Scott and experienced in state politics.

"The work VISIT FLORIDA does to promote tourism is vital to the continued growth of the state's economy and having someone with Secretary Lawson's strong leadership background will secure our continued success." said chair of the Visit Florida board William D. Talbert.

Lawson, a native Floridian and former US Marine Corps judge advocate general, has spent 12 years serving in numerous regulatory positions, including his most recent work overseeing—among other divisions—restaurants, hotels and vacation rentals.


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