Florida lawmakers have tried and failed to bring the former head of the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence in for questioning. The legislature has tried to deliver subpoena’s to Tiffany Carr in person and online, via twitter. House leaders are now considering penalties that could include imprisonment.
The state has already stripped the Coalition of its sole provider status for funding domestic violence centers statewide. The move comes after Carr steered millions of dollars to herself and some of her top officials at the agency. It’s sparked a state investigation into how the problems managed to go unnoticed for so long. House Integrity Chairman Tom Leek says that work will continue, with or without Carr’s cooperation.
“You’ve seen the litany of different ways we’ve tried to serve her. Now we’ll have to deal with the barrier and the fact she remains out of state and continues to evade service. We’ll continue to press that issue. We will be bolstered by the fact that you have other actions are taking place now that she’s accepted service. And we will continue to try to package all our things with their things to make sure we’re able to get her at some point in time," he said.
Carr is living in North Carolina and has refused to answer legislative subpoenas. Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody and Governor Ron DeSantis recently announced they’re suing the Coalition and Carr, who received $7.5 million in compensation over a three-year period. The state is accusing Carr and the organization’s leaders of misusing taxpayer funds. The House ethics and integrity committee has been grilling coalition employees about what they knew and when, but have not been able to get Carr. House Speaker Jose Oliva did not expect Carr to show up to Thursday’s hearings.
“I think she’s possibly taking a posture to legally protect herself against what appears to be a very damming situation for her. So I would imagine she would do everything she can to protect herself," Oliva said.
Leek says Carr won’t be able to hide forever, and he’s planning to take more drastic steps, including penalizing her for not responding to the legislature’s requests for her to appear. Those sanctions could include a 90-day imprisonment if the full House chamber agrees. Leek says lawmakers are in a situation they’re never dealt with before.
“We’re blazing new territory here. But the sanctions can be monetary. They can also be imprisonment,” he said. When asked whether the House has ever sent anyone to prison, Leek responded, "not to my knowledge."
The state is making legal headway in its case against Carr. A judge ruled Thursday in favor of Attorney General Ashley Moody who requested a receiver be appointed to oversee the dissolution of the coalition and work to preserve any remaining money, assetts and potential evidence.