The controversial Orange County Tax Collector is in more hot water after a WFTV Channel 9 investigation found that Scott Randolph has been paying tens of thousands of dollars to a high paid lobbyist. Randolph hired Republican lobbyist Angel de la Portilla at a rate of $5,000/month to lobby local County Commissioners, something most feel the elected official should do himself. Randolph has already spent over $70,000 on lobbyists and it’s a huge waste of money for taxpayers.
As the WFTV report confirms, no other Tax Collector in all of Central Florida (and Miami) has ever hired an outside lobbyist to represent their interests. But Randolph has been controversial since the beginning of his term a year ago and he has never stopped his political plotting behind the scenes in his new position. Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs even issued a statement saying, “Orange County has a long history of working together in a productive manner with our constitutional officers. The recent process with Mr. Randolph has proven to be the exception.” Harsh.
Complicating the current matter, Angel de la Portilla is not only a high paid lobbyist, he was the lead advocate to consolidate the Tax Collector office. He was also a panel member on the 2012 Charter Review Commission that looked into consolidating the tax collector office. After the Charter Review Commission opted not to put the question on the local ballot, Angel de la Portilla was the one who said publicly in April 2012 that reform was still needed, and that he may take further action including moving to make the Tax Collector an appointed position controlled by the county’s elected mayor and commissioners.
That makes him a very interesting choice for Randolph to pay $5,000/month. To some, it could even seem like an attempt to pay off one of his office’s chief critics using public tax dollars. It’s also interesting since this high paid lobbyist is a Republican and the Randolphs like to claim to be “progressive” leaders.
But the only lame excuse the Tax Collector office could offer was to throw other elected Democrats like Sheriff Jerry Demings and Property Appraiser Rick Singh under the bus by saying “they spend money on outside consultants too.”
Of course, Randolph is in this thing to save his newly found position. This was never a priority for Randolph or his clique while longtime Tax Collector Earl K Wood was still alive and in office. Randolph was elected under Earl K. Wood’s name (who died just before Election Day in 2012). Now Randolph is looking to save his $150,000/year salary. And Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs is looking to save taxpayers money by consolidating this office.
This latest waste of public tax dollars on high paid lobbyists is just more fuel for the fire coming from Jacobs and other critics.