Last week Gov. Ron DeSantis asked the state Inspector General Melinda Miguel to investigate the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence’s “exorbitant compensation payouts,” including how Tiffany Carr, the agency’s former CEO, received millions of dollars in compensation for her work at the coalition. Carr and 13 others were issued subpoenas by the Florida House.
On Friday, Trish Giaccone, who heads Flagler County’s Family Life Center, the county’s only shelter for victims of domestic and sexual violence, issued a letter to local community supporters and leaders on the issue. She also circulated a letter written Sunday, to which she is a signatory, issued by numerous domestic violence shelter leaders across the state to Gov. DeSantis backing the ongoing investigations. Both letters appear below, starting with the letter to the Flagler community.
Dear Community Supporter,
Legislatures are currently looking into removing the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence (FCADV) from Florida statute, a very likely action resulting in the Department of Children and Families (DCF) gaining control of distribution of funding, monitoring and certifying domestic violence centers. We are hopeful services for victims will continue without interruption. Unfortunately, when non-profit organizations in any region are investigated it negatively affects all non-profits in both perception of inappropriate funding and a decline in local and community support.
In light of the recent attention regarding FCADV, the ethics probe and subsequent request from Governor Desantis to begin a criminal investigation into the organization, I wanted to reach out to you and others.
FCADV is a membership organization, a pass-through funder of state and federal grants for domestic violence services and a provider of technical assistance. FCADV annually monitors certified centers on behalf of DCF and the Office of the Attorney General Victims of Crime Grant.
Although I am as surprised as you with the FCADV situation, we are prepared to respond in any way necessary to ensure the integrity of the Family Life Center and our team. We are committed to transparency and will provide financial documentation requested by you, any funder or community stakeholder.
Should you have any questions, feel free to email me or the Family Life Center Finance Director, Tammy Sanner at [email protected]
As always, we appreciate your support!
Dear Governor DeSantis,
The undersigned executive leadership of domestic violence centers – all of us providers certified by the Department of Children and Families (DCF) – thank you for initiating an investigation into the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence (FCADV). We stand with you and fully support your directive to DCF to “…take all appropriate actions to prevent potential harm to Florida’s vulnerable victims of domestic violence.”
Shocked and gravely concerned with what we learned this week, about the exorbitant compensation paid to the CEO of FCADV, FCADV’s continued resistance to requests for information from public bodies, and the apparent flagrant sacrifice of the welfare of domestic violence survivors to personal greed, the undersigned center executives demand the resignations of the FCADV Board of Directors.
Transparency and accountability are core values to which we are committed as service providers, and as stewards of public funding and public trust. Our agencies take our public service roles seriously; the communities we serve depend on us to do so. We are directly responsible for providing services that can mean the difference between life and death for domestic violence victims and their children. We remain steadfastly committed to ensuring that these vital services continue without interruption, as our shared mission and focus demonstrate. We welcome all inquiries without hesitation.
In this transition, we remain confident that, under your leadership, we can continue to meet our commitments to provide quality services to victims of domestic violence and their children in our communities, across the state. As needed changes to the administration of domestic violence funding are being developed and implemented under DCF, we remain ready to assist in any way that would be useful to the process moving forward.
Very truly yours,
Sunshine Arnold, MSW, CEO, Citrus County Abuse Shelter Association (CASA), Inc.
Margaret A. Baldwin, Executive Director, Refuge House, Inc.
Jennifer Benton, CEO, Abuse Counseling and Treatment (ACT), Inc.
Judy Brophy, Interim CEO, SafeSpace, Inc.
Tammy Douglass, Executive Director, Help Now of Osceola, Inc.
Lariana Forsythe, CEO, Community Action Stops Abuse (CASA), Inc.
Patricia “Trish” Giaccone, MS, CEO, Family Life Center, Inc. Flagler County.
Jeanne Gold, CEO, SafeHouse of Seminole, Inc.
Andrea Gottry, Executive Director, Another Way, Inc.
Jessica Hays, CEO, Safe Place and Rape Crisis Center (SPARCC), Inc.
Heather Jones, Executive Director, Micah’s Place, Inc.
Joyce Mahr, CEO, Safety Shelter of St. John’s County (Betty Griffin Center), Inc.
Karen McElhaney, Executive Director, Center for Abuse and Rape Emergencies (CARE), Inc.
Mindy Murphy, CEO, The Spring, Inc.
Linda Oberhaus, CEO, Shelter for Abused Women and Children, Inc.
Pam O’Brien, President and CEO, Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse (AVDA), Inc.
Linda Parker, PhD., Director of Victim Services, Peace River Center, Inc.
Dr. Gail A. Patin, LCSW, CEO, Hubbard House, Inc.
Angie Pye, Executive Director, Domestic Abuse Council DBA Beacon Center, Inc.
Mary Riedel, President and CEO, Women in Distress, Inc.
Lori Slaven, Executive Director, Lee Conlee House, Inc.
Shannon Sokolowski, MNM, Executive Director, Dawn Center of Hernando County Inc.
Kelly Sinn, CEO, Sunrise Domestic and Sexual Violence Center, Inc.
Michelle Sperzel, CEO, Harbor House of Central Florida, Inc.
Kathy White, Executive Director, Vivid Visions, Inc.
Rosalyn Wik, CEO, Shelter House, Inc.
cc. Mr. Chad Poppell, Secretary, Florida Department of Children and Families
Ms. Melinda Miguel, Chief Inspector General
Mr. Richard L. Swearingen, Commissioner, Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
Board of Directors, Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Inc.
Melody Keeth, Chair
Angela Diaz-Vidailet, 1st Vice Chair
Theresa Beachy, Treasurer
Laurel Lynch, Director
Sherrie Schwab, Director