FL Lawmakers Review Okaloosa Co. Tourism Fraud

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- Florida lawmakers have grilled Okaloosa County officials over how their tourism director was able to spend more than $1.4 million in public funds on a personal home, yacht and other luxury items.

The Joint Legislative Auditing Committee on Monday also ordered the state auditor general's office to conduct an audit of county agencies in connection with the misspent tourism money that came from tourist development taxes and a BP oil spill grant.

The petroleum company gave millions in tourism promotion dollars to Okaloosa and other Gulf Coast communities following a massive oil spill from one of its offshore wells in 2010.

The tourism director, Mark Bellinger, committed suicide a day after he was reported missing and three days after resigning last May.

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