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Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer Refuses to Resign from OnePULSE Foundation

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer is refusing to step down from his role on the OnePULSE Foundation Chairman’s Ambassador’s Council despite calls from a community coalition that says “there are clear conflicts of interest.” The coalition also criticized the involvement of City Attorney Mayanne Downs and Earl Crittenden, appointed by Mayor Dyer as Orlando’s Chief Protocol Officer.

Mayor Dyer has been urged to resign from his position for quite some time, and the elected Democrat declined comment when asked by West Orlando News numerous times about this issue.

“I am writing to formally ask you to resign from your position on the Chairman’s Ambassador’s Council of the OnePULSE Foundation,” the letter from Dr. Zachary Blair with the Community Coalition Against A Pulse Museum stated. The Orlando Mayor was also reminded about “the unpermtted renovations and code violations that hindered escape and rescue, which the City has known about for years and still you recently dismissed them.”

Since then, there has been a lack of transparency from the City of Orlando and Mayor Dyer regarding Pulse.

“The OnePULSE Foundation has taken victims/survivors and Orlando’s LGBTQ+ community on a 7.5 year journey that none of us wanted,” Blair’s letter to Mayor Dyer said. “The museum project was formulated so that the nonprofit could exist in perpetuity, turning the massacre into a self-sustainable, money-making tourist attraction. It was never a victim-led project and it was always exploitative. Since 2019, victims have publicly called for a public memorial and no museum. The City and the Foundation ignored these calls and continued on their own path forward, with Pulse owner Barbara Poma leading the way, taking a significant salary, and getting her personal property taxes paid for by the Foundation.”

Recent reporting from WESH 2 News included Pulse survivors and victims’ families who have been silenced, dismissed, and ignored for years by the nonprofit that Mayor Dyer has supported. The coalition points out that the organization was started by the owner of the Pulse Nightclub who is still being sued by shooting victims for premise liability.

“I am asking you to resign from your role on the Council of the OnePULSE Foundation because there are clear conflicts of interest here,” the letter stated. “Not only yourself, but also with Earl Crittenden who is the Board Chairman, the City of Orlando’s Chief Protocol Officer (appointed by you), and a lawyer for Gray Robinson—the same law firm that City Attorney Mayanne Downs presided over after the shooting and that handled litigation and possible litigation against the City brought by Pulse victims/survivors. Crittenden should resign as Chairman as well.”

“This is evident from the documents we received through public records requests, that were not released to the public, that show a list of violations and issues at Pulse that the City knew about that was sent from Mayanne Down’s Gray Robinson email,” the letter continued. “This was initially given to me completely redacted and I had to provide a statute to your own attorney showing that I had a right to those records. No one should have to jump through these hoops for answers. Why she was conducting official City business with a private personal email is concerning, especially considering the contents of the email.”

Despite the serious allegations and potential conflicts of interest, Mayor Dyer refuses to provide transparency and refuses to answer basic questions or to defend actions of his administration.

“As you celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month and the launch of the City’s ‘Orlando for All’ Promotional Campaign, remember the Latinx, Black, and LGBTQ+ victims/survivors who are asking the City for answers and who the City continues to ignore and lie to,” Dr. Zachary Blair’s letter said. “We are looking forward to hearing from you and seeing you resign from the OnePULSE Foundation’s Council.”

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer declined comment and refused to answer these questions from West Orlando News over several weeks:

  • Will Mayor Dyer step down from a board of the OnePULSE Foundation (the Chairman’s Committee) as the group is requesting? Mayor Dyer declined comment.
  • Does Mayor Dyer support ending OnePulse and transitioning a public nonprofit to the survivors? Mayor Dyer declined comment.
  • Does Mayor Dyer support ending the effort to build a for-profit museum? Mayor Dyer declined comment.

While Mayor Dyer refuses to comment, the City of Orlando spokesperson did provide one limited response: “The city of Orlando cooperated with the FBI’s investigation of the Pulse tragedy and provided full transparency by the release of all public records online. The city continues to support the victims, survivors, their families and all those impacted by the Pulse tragedy in a variety of ways and continues to work to create a sanctuary of hope here in our community.”

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