Florida House of Representatives

Representative Dane Eagle
District 77
District Office:
1039 S.E. 9
th
Place
Suite #310
Cape Coral, FL 33990
239-772-1291

Tallahassee Office:
1302 Capitol
402 South Monroe Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399
850-717-5077




Committees:
State Affairs Committee; Business & Professional Regulation Subcommittee; Criminal Justice Subcommittee;
Economic Development and Tourism Subcommittee; Education K-12 Subcommittee

www.myfloridahouse.gov
June 9, 2014

Mr. Charlie Henrich, Vice President/General Manager
WFTX-TV/FOX 4
621 S.W. Pine Island Rd.
Cape Coral, FL 33991

Dear Mr. Henrich,

This letter is intended as a formal response to a story by Warren Wright which aired Thursday, June 5, 2014, in which I
am accused of “crony capitalism” and “doing favors for lobbyists” in my capacity as State Representative from Florida
House District 77. It is my sincere hope that you will accord the facts the same consideration as the distorted half-truths
broadcast on-air.

Your reporter contacted me in the early afternoon of June 5, 2014 to seek comment about a story tip with respect to a
$250,000 appropriation in the 2014-2015 state budget for Future Builders of America, a nonprofit workforce development
and student leadership program. I was proud to advocate for the appropriation during the 2014 Session and was delighted
to have an opportunity to discuss this very worthy program.

At the outset of our conversation, Mr. Wright suggested the appropriation was a budget “turkey.” While it is true that
Florida TaxWatch listed the $250,000 allocation for Future Builders of America on their annual “Turkey List,” their
inclusion of this item on that list was absolutely erroneous. Florida TaxWatch defines “Budget Turkeys” as “individual
appropriations that circumvent a thoughtful and thorough budget process…and every appropriation should receive
deliberation and debate.” Any assertion that the appropriation for Future Builders of America did not receive proper
scrutiny is patently untrue.

The provision was included in the original filed version of HB 593 and its companion Senate bill. It was discussed in the
committees of reference for each bill, in each respective chamber. It was removed from the policy bill because
appropriations are allocated in the budget.

To insinuate the provision was “buried deep” in the bill is deliberately misleading. HB 593 was referred to and considered
in three House committees. Prior to hearing in committee, House policy staff prepares a thorough analysis of the each bill
on the agenda. A staff analysis of a bill includes a discussion of the present situation, the proposed changes and the effect




Committees:
State Affairs Committee; Business & Professional Regulation Subcommittee; Criminal Justice Subcommittee;
Economic Development and Tourism Subcommittee; Education K-12 Subcommittee

www.myfloridahouse.gov
of those changes. All staff analyses are available online at www.myfloridahouse.gov, and all committee hearings are open
to the public. I specifically addressed and discussed the proposed appropriation at each committee hearing.

Mr. Wright’s story insinuates that my sponsorship of HB 593, relating to building construction, and my advocacy for
funding for Future Builders of America are inappropriate conflicts of interest given that I was employed by the Lee
Building Industry Association until April of this year. In fact, he includes an on-air quote from a political opponent who
calls my advocacy of these measures “the definition of crony capitalism.” That insinuation is also patently untrue.

As you probably know, in Florida we have a citizen legislature with Members from all walks of life, all sectors of
business, industry and experience. It is common – and entirely appropriate – for a legislator to bring their particular
expertise to bear on the deliberative process of policy development. HB 593 is the annual bill that makes changes to
statutory provisions related to building construction, codes, and permitting. It is a comprehensive bill that addresses a
variety of issues, not just “pool codes” as reported by Mr. Wright. The bill is the work product of a large group of
stakeholders who bring forward construction-related issues to be addressed by the legislature. The annual bill has been
sponsored in the past by Members who also have close ties to the building industry, notably former Representative Gary
Aubuchon (President and CEO of Aubuchon Homes) and Representative Daniel Davis (former Executive Director of the
Northeast Florida Homebuilders Association.) The building industry is arguably the backbone of our economy in
Southwest Florida, and I was proud to advocate for legislation that will strengthen a major industry in our state.

I was equally proud to advocate for funding for Future Builders of America, a 501(c) (3) charitable organization, created
more than ten years ago to support, educate and mentor young people interested in pursuing careers in the construction
industry. They pursue that mission by creating local Future Builders of America chapters throughout the state for middle
and high school age students. Often these chapters are attached to a specific school program but some chapters serve
children attending multiple schools. Usually there are one or more teachers involved as well as builders, developers and
sub-contractors.

Traditionally the program has been privately funded by local builders, developers and other construction related
companies or individuals that have a vested interest. The recession had an unparalleled impact on the construction
industry. No other industry was as devastated by the collapse. This resulted in a significant reduction of local financial
support. Unfortunately the continued existence of the Future Builders of America is at a critical stage. Without increased
funding, there is a chance the program will collapse at a time when there is a construction industry workforce shortage.

The organization sought state funding to increase enrollment at local chapters, add new chapters (potentially one here in
Southwest Florida) and work with Florida DOE and local school boards to add construction related courses and
curriculum. Those initiatives will ultimately help alleviate the construction industry workforce shortage as well as address
the long-range issue of an aging workforce in the construction industry. Increasing construction related training and
educational programs in our K-12 schools will benefit a significant percentage of the student population that currently is
being guided by our high schools to postsecondary education at a college where only 25% of these students that enter
college will graduate college. The 75% of the high school student population that never enter college or leave college
without a diploma ultimately will seek a technical education, where they could have been guided to a construction and or
other technical education during the K-12 years and beyond.

Future Builders of America is industry-funded as the $250,000 allocated in the state budget comes from the building
permit surcharge surplus. Moreover the appropriation is tied to accountability measures that will ensure the money is
spent as intended.

I believe it is entirely appropriate to support and advocate for industry-relevant workforce development programs that will
strengthen a major industry in our district, region and state. But you do not have to take my word for it. I invite you to
contact local builders and contractors to ask their opinion of this worthy program.





Committees:
State Affairs Committee; Business & Professional Regulation Subcommittee; Criminal Justice Subcommittee;
Economic Development and Tourism Subcommittee; Education K-12 Subcommittee

www.myfloridahouse.gov
Perhaps the most disturbing points in the story are the distorted inferences drawn by Mr. Wright with respect to the
relationship between Future Builders of America and the Florida Homebuilders Association.

In his story, Mr. Wright pointed to a 2011 form filed with the IRS to insinuate that the funding for Future Builders of
America was covertly funneled to the Florida Homebuilders Association to pay top-dollar salaries. This insinuation is
patently false. I would expect the Florida Homebuilders Association to address this matter directly with you, too, but the
“facts” reported in the story were not verified and could have easily been verified.

Future Builders of America prepared its Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax (Form 990) in compliance with
Internal Revenue Service (IRS) guidance including the filing instructions for a 501(c) (3) organization.

Future Builders of America’s purpose is to engage in housing-related educational activities; specifically to help youth
understand and pursue careers in homebuilding and the related trades.

Form 990 Part VII specifically requires that an association report compensation of its officers, directors, trustees, etc. for
services provided to the association in Column D, and from related organizations in Column E. Florida Home Builders
Association is considered a related organization to Future Builders of America due to common directors.

Future Builders of America’s Form 990 reflects total personnel expense of $36,250 at Part IX of the return. Total
expenditures for the year reflected on Page One of the Form 990 are less than the directors’ salaries improperly reported
by Mr. Wright as being paid from the association. Future Builders of America’s Form 990 appropriately reflects the salary
of the two directors in question from their activities as officers of Florida Homebuilders Association as part of the
required disclosures in Part VII, Column E of the return. Neither director received any salary from Future Builders of
America.

The preceding information is actual fact, not a distortion. Your viewing public is entitled to know the truth and not be
subject to half-truths prompted by a clear political attack.

All the Best,



Dane Eagle

cc: Eric Maze, News Director
Warren Wright


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