Former Florida Senate President Don Gaetz, who pushed for the creation of a non-profit board to oversee BP oil spill money, was appointed to the seven-member Triumph Gulf Coast board of directors by House Speaker Richard Corcoran on Friday.
“I can think of no one better suited to ensure fair and equitable distribution of the settlement funds,” Corcoran, R-Land O' Lakes, said in a release.
While in the Legislature, Gaetz, who served as Senate president during the 2013 and 2014 legislative sessions, was instrumental in establishing the Oil Spill Economic Recovery Act. The act steers three-fourths of the $2 billion the state is to receive over the next 13 years from BP - in a settlement over the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico - to the eight Panhandle counties heavily impacted by the disaster, which dumped millions of gallons of oil less than 100 miles off the Florida coast.
Also on Friday, Senate President Joe Negron, R-Stuart, appointed Jason Shaof, vice president of the St. Joe Natural Gas Company, to the Triumph Gulf Coast board. Measures signed into law this year (HB 7077, HB 7079) will release the first $300 million of $400 million already received by the state to Bay, Escambia, Franklin, Gulf, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, Wakulla and Walton counties through the non-profit Triumph organization.
The law set minimums for how much each county will receive and expanded the Triumph board from five to seven members, with the goal of providing more representation for less-populated counties. Other members of the board include former House Speaker Allan Bense, who serves as the chairman; Stan Connally Jr.; Pam Dana; Stephen Riggs IV; and Bob Bonezzi.