PART 1 OF A 2 PART SERIES:
ESCAMBIA CO. SHERIFF REVEALS COUNTYWIDE CORRUPTION
In addition to spending LET money with great abandon, the Honorable Sheriff Morgan debased himself to a new low by exploiting his discretion of this fund even more. It should be no surprise, as Mr. Doug Underhill stated in the Panhandle Politico, Morgan has been soliciting LET money to other organizations. This is unprecedented and unauthorized by Florida Statute. As Ms. Jeanne Griffin stated, the process is that organizations request money from the Sheriff’s office…… ORGANIZATIONS REQUEST MONEY. The fact Morgan has to offer money to people who then have to jump through hoops to get to money, is out of the normal. It begs the question of “why”?
Regardless of motivations, the most recent foolishness is the Hadji Shrine Temple’s recent golf tournament to raise non-deductible, non-501(3)c donations for operational costs for their organization. This was not something donors could right off. Standard advertising sponsorship was $100 for a sign at one of the tees. They also sold sponsorship for golf teams. It was $300 per 4 man team.
The entire scenario is sketchy. One afternoon, while canvassing the area for donations, Sheriff Morgan approached Jay Cowick, in his yard. Morgan asked him if he was the man to see regarding sponsorship at the golf tournament. Jay said he was and explained the $100 per sign sponsorship they had. Sheriff Morgan responded that he thought he could probably do better than that. He’d have someone contact this Jay with more information.
The following Monday, an unidentified woman called Jay and asked what $5000 would get the Sheriff’s Office. Shocked, Jay said they would have 18 signs, 1 at ever tee (value of $1800) and 2 teams (value of $600). There was nothing else really that they had to give. They could come up with a banner for the Sheriff for free. This was agreed upon.
Sources within the ranks of the Hadji Temple confirmed that no further documentation was provided to the Sheriff’s office for this transaction. They did not sign anything; no justification documentation went to the Sheriff’s Office and a check was received. Upon a inspection of a public records request, there is an entire packet of documentation attached for this check. There is an unsigned request form, an email from Alison Morgan to Jay Cowick asking about where to send the check, a letter from Jan 2016 asking the Sheriff’s office to donate items to be given away at the door for this tournament–oh by the way, if they are interested in sponsorship here are the basics. Additionally a Sunbiz printout with the Hadji Temple’s 501(3)c listing , a copy of the tax exemption form, which has no bearing on the request as the money is not for tax-deductible funds. The troubling part of this is that the Sheriff’s office, according the Hadji Shrine Temple, put this documentation together without their knowledge and hastily so that they did not see that the donations were not going for the crippled children, directly. This entire transaction was doctored up. IT IS FRAUDULENT!
But wait there’s more…
The golf tournament was on May 14, 2016. The morning of the tournament, Sheriff Morgan and entourage arrive with a huge number of campaign signs and starts placing them everywhere. This had the other Shriners questioning just what this check was going to cost them. Upon inspection, the donation was out of the LET fund. The Shriners did not formally provide a request, necessary by Florida statute. The check came to them after being solicited by the Sheriff.
This one transaction shows the corrupt nature of this Sheriff and his view of the fund. He went to people and asked them what he could give for donations. What purpose is there to ask people to give. Maybe we can break it down a little. For the Shriners, 18 holes with 18 signs would have been $1800. Morgan got 2 golf teams registered at $300 per team. That is $600 + the sign money is $2400 in total. He did not get a thing more than if he had only written a check for $2400 to the Shriners. Why $5000? Influence & power to put up signs illegally without the organization questioning him. This solicitation to DONATE money is bizarre and seems to have proverbial strings, but Doug Underhill corroborates this in the Panhandle Politico article when asked if he intiated the $25K donation for Cyberthon. His response was, “during a conversation about the program, Sheriff Morgan offered to support the event with LET funding.”
There seems to be some sort of expected quid pro quo for these donations. It is possible that the recipients do not know they are selling their souls to Sheriff Morgan for unspoken future favors. I made this assertion in regards to the GCKH donation in 2014. I am even more convinced of it now.
Recruiting high dollar donations with the caveat of “what can you give me for this money” is a perversion of the altruistic facade the Honorable Sheriff receives accolades for, not to mention the overt cover up the facts surrounding these donations, specifically by fraudulently creating documentation to make the Shriners look like they came to Morgan is simply criminal. This is exactly the reason the entire Escambia County Board of Commissioners should be impeached along with this Sheriff. The BOCC members have a responsibility to the taxpayers to govern and make sure the money for the county is handled correctly. By giving up those rights, they are faltering in their duty to the taxpayers. The buck stops with them and not knowing is not an excuse for allowing this. The inmate is running the asylum, while the commissioners do nothing.