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Orange County Mayor Demings Terminates Lobbying Contract with GrayRobinson

Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings has terminated the lobbying contract with GrayRobinson after a local scandal involving a lobbyist, Visit Orlando and a local Democratic state lawmaker.




State Senator Linda Stewart, an Orlando Democrat, partnered with GrayRobinson lobbyist Chris Carmody to protect Visit Orlando from county attempts to cut funding, which the Orange County Commission and local officials have discussed. But the twisted local political drama gets worse.

GrayRobinson lobbyist Carmody was on the county’s payroll when he worked with Senator Linda Stewart, but it makes more sense because another client of Carmody was the Central Florida Hotel & Lodging Association who advocates not cutting Visit Orlando’s funding.

“Clearly, Mr. Carmody created a conflict of interest when he advised a State Senator about a matter contrary to the best interest of Orange County Government,” Mayor Demings wrote Dean Cannon, President and Chief Executive Officer of GrayRobinson. “As a result, the County has lost confidence in his ability to objectively represent the County.”

Mayor Demings was not the only one upset, as many Commissioners felt betrayed. Knowing how GrayRobinson is tangled in almost all local government business and lobbying efforts, should anyone have really been surprised?

“Who are you loyal to?” Orange County Commissioner Mayra Uribe questioned the lobbyist Carmody. “Are you loyal to the tourism industry and organization? Are you loyal to the county commission who hires you, too?”

According to Mayor Demings, the effective date of the termination will be March 15, 2024.

Here is a copy of the letter sent by Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings to GrayRobinson:




Mr. Dean Cannon, President and Chief Executive Officer
GrayRobinson, P.A.
301 East Pine Street Orlando, Florida 32801

Subject: Notice of Termination, Orange County Contract Y19-106, State Lobbying Services

Mr. Cannon:

 

I received your letter of apology concerning the unfortunate situation regarding Orange County Contract Y19-106, State Lobbying Services, with Gray Robinson, P.A. Clearly, Mr. Carmody created a conflict of interest when he advised a State Senator about a matter contrary to the best interest of Orange County Government. As a result, the County has lost confidence in his ability to objectively represent the County. Therefore, this letter is to advise you that, in accordance with termination notice provisions of the above contract, Article 5, Sub-section B, Termination for Convenience, the County intends to terminate the subject contract. The effective date of the termination will be March 15, 2024. This termination action is for the convenience of the government and has no adverse impact on your status as a vendor with the county. You are hereby advised to:

(a.) Notify any of your suppliers or sub-contractors involved in the performance of this contract of this termination action informing them to terminate any actions involved in the performance of this contract.

(b.) Effective immediately assign a new key point of contact through March 15, 2024.

(c.) All reporting requirements shall continue through the current legislative session, inclusive of a wrap­-up report at the conclusion of the legislative session.

(d.) Cease all performance under the contract as of the effective date of the termination, March 15, 2024 and provide a final invoice for services through the termination date only.

A copy will be sent via certified mail for your records.

Respectfully,

Jerry L. Demings
Mayor

cc: Roseann Harrington, Chief of Staff, Office of the Mayor
Kelly Teague, Director of Legislative Affairs, Office of the Mayor
Scott Shevenell, Assistant County Attorney, County Attorney’s Office
Carrie Mathes, Manager II, Procurement Division
Susan Martin, Administrator, Risk Management Division
Sheena Ferguson, Manager, Business Development Division
File: Contract Y19-106, State Lobbying Services



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