US rapper Pitbull’s $1 million contract to promote tourism in Florida, including his video with swimsuit-clad women frolicking on beaches, unleashed a political scandal that has toppled the state’s tourism chief.
Visit Florida, the state tourism marketing agency that is funded by taxpayers, confirmed Wednesday to AFP that its chief executive Will Seccombe had agreed to a $73,000 severance.
The controversy began in December, after the US-Cuban rapper disclosed on Twitter that he had been paid $1 million to make the video, creating a wave of subsequent sticker shock that rocked state politics.
The video by Visit Florida promotes the state’s beaches with the hashtag #LoveFL and the song “Sexy Beaches,” a play on words, with “beach” suggesting a vulgar term for a woman.
In the video, Pitbull sings surrounded by young women on sandy beaches: “I wanna see sexy beaches, hotels.”
Pitbull tweeted the information about the July 2015 contract, which had been confidential, on December 15, 2016.
As a result Governor Rick Scott asked Seccombe to step down and the head of Florida’s House of Representatives, Richard Corcoran, questioned the use of taxpayer dollars to promote tourism.
On Tuesday, Seccombe “agreed to waive his contract and receive a $73,000 severance,” said Visit Florida spokeswoman Kathy Torian.
Visit Florida named Ken Lawson, secretary of the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, as Seccombe’s successor.
Scott welcomed the change without mentioning the Pitbull debacle, saying that Lawson “understands the responsibility we have to be transparent with every tax dollar.”
The 35-year-old rapper, whose real name is Armando Perez, used the hashtag #LoveFL for the last time on August 15.