The shocking revelations surrounding the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence accumulate by the day. But don’t blame your local organizations that must confront domestic violence. This is a strictly top-down scandal.


The Florida Legislature doesn’t often hold full-fledged investigative hearings during the regular session, but last week members of the House Public Integrity and Ethics Committee grilled the management of the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence about the breathtaking levels of compensation bestowed it on its former CEO, Tiffany Carr. The revelations have been stunning.


The coalition is a nonprofit organization that the state uses to distribute more than $50 million a year in state and federal funds to domestic violence shelters around the state. Since the Jeb Bush administration, the coalition has been the “sole-source contractor” for this work.


Questions about Carr’s inflated salary – $761,000 a year, as The Miami Herald reported in 2018 – have been floating around for years. The Florida Department of Children and Families had been trying for almost two years to shake information out of the coalition and has been continually thwarted.


It turns out that Carr’s inflated salary was only one part of the problem. In testimony before the House committee, organization officials confirmed that Carr received more than $7.5 million in compensation over three years, including $4 million by gaming the organization’s paid-time-off policies.


“It appears to me that the employees, along with Ms. Carr, worked collectively to cheat the system,” Rep. Tom Leek, R-Ormond Beach, chairman of the committee, told reporters. He said Carr looked for ways to “bonus herself up” in addition to her already controversial salary.


“It’s one of the ugliest things I’ve seen in my time in the Legislature,” said House Speaker Jose Oliva.


By midweek, the Senate moved with unaccustomed urgency to pass a bill (HB 1087) that ends the coalition’s sole-source status and gives more oversight to DCF. The governor signed it Thursday.


But these are only the first steps needed to restore faith in the system.


The revelations so far suggest an alarming looting of an organization that was set up to benefit some of society’s most vulnerable women. Florida is not known for being overgenerous in funding needed social services on the local level. So when this much money gets diverted at the top, it’s the frontline shelters that feel real pain.


So don’t take it out on your local shelters. These are good people doing the difficult work of trying to stretch limited resources to people in crisis. The vital services they provide have been victimized by the actions of the coalition’s management. In addition to being shortchanged by actions at the top, local shelters may face funding delays as state agencies deal with all the fallout.


Leek’s committee has done an admirable job in getting to the bottom of this deception. Meanwhile, it’s going to fall to DCF to fix the system, restore accountability and, in doing so, avoid further choking the flow of money for overwhelmed local shelter programs.