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TALLAHASSEE - Three months after problems arose with a local investment pool at the State Board of Administration, the Florida House speaker has hired consultants for $200,000 to examine what happened.
House Speaker Marco Rubio has asked the consultants, including a firm he used to work for, to deliver an initial report in two weeks, saying he wants to know quickly whether new legislation is needed to prevent future investment problems.
Part of the contract, $50,000, goes to Thomas Tew of Tew-Cardenas, a law firm that employed Rubio in the mid 1990s. The firm's partners include Al Cardenas, former head of the Republican Party of Florida, who has ties to former Gov. Jeb Bush.
On Tew's suggestion, the House has spent $150,000 to hire Tanya Styblo Beder, chairman of SBCC, a New York-based firm that advises financial firms. Beder briefly worked for California's Orange County when it had to declare bankruptcy in 1994. Tew called Beder an expert who "understands the financial engineering of these securities."
To pay for the consultants, the House has dropped its outside counsel for a lawsuit over university tuition with the Board of Governors, said Rubio's spokeswoman Jill Chamberlin. Instead, the House will split legal fees for the Senate's attorney, Dan Brown at Carlton Fields.
The SBA consultants met with the House speaker's staff last week but were officially hired Monday, said Rep. Carl Domino, R-Palm Beach Gardens, who sat through some of the talks.
The office of Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, who had asked for a legislative audit of SBA problems, said they were pleased to have as many people as possible looking for solutions, said spokesman Kevin Cate.