The Broward Office of the Inspector General (OIG) published a report accusing former Greater Fort Lauderdale CVB VP of Convention Sales Christine Roberts, currently the executive director of the MPI Foundation, of steering over a quarter million in contracts to her boyfriend’s event company.

According to the report from Inspector General John W. Scott, published September 27, 2018, and entitled Ethics, Sunshine, and Procurement Misconduct and Gross Mismanagement in the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB), the Broward OIG determined that Roberts “corruptly misused her position within the CVB to orchestrate the selection of her boyfriend Marcus Michaud’s event production company between 2012, the year she and Mr. Michaud started dating, and 2015, the year he stopped working with the CVB.”

The report continues: “Ms. Roberts’s misconduct benefited Mr. Michaud’s company with approximately $255,570 of county business. She also had a conflicting contractual relationship with Mr. Michaud by giving him a loan while she, through the CVB, did business with him.”

MPI Foundation provided the following statement:

“It has come to our attention that a Meeting Professionals International Foundation employee has been accused of unethical business practices during her tenure at a previous job.

“We take matters like this very seriously, and currently are gathering more details about the situation as we determine appropriate next steps.”

The full text of the Broward OIG report is available below:

“The Broward Office of the Inspector General (OIG) has concluded its investigation into concerns that a Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) manager circumvented Broward County’s procurement process and awarded contracts to her boyfriend. We substantiated the allegations.

“The OIG determined that, when she was the CVB’s vice president (VP) of the Convention Sales Division, Christine Roberts committed misconduct by capitalizing on her position to unilaterally select or orchestrate the selection of her boyfriend Marcus Michaud’s event production company for seven CVB events under her control between July 2012 and June 2015, benefiting his company by approximately $255,570.

"Ms. Roberts also engaged in a prohibited conflicting relationship with Mr. Michaud when the couple entered into a loan agreement at the same time the CVB was doing business with him.

“These were state ethics code violations.

“During the investigation, we learned that Ms. Roberts was able to funnel work to her boyfriend because the CVB failed to follow county procurement protocols designed to disburse public money equitably and economically. Instead, under the leadership of former President/CEO Nicki Grossman, the CVB used its own, unauthorized procedures. Consequently, three members of CVB’s management team engaged in misconduct in the improper procurements that we detail in this report:

  • (1) Ms. Roberts and VP of Tourism Sales Fernando Harb attended and participated in selection committee meetings that violated Florida’s Sunshine Laws, and;
  • (2) Ms. Roberts, Mr. Harb, and Ms. Grossman engaged or helped to direct the engagement of Mr. Michaud’s company in violation of the county’s procurement code.

“Finally, Ms. Roberts and Ms. Grossman engaged in gross mismanagement for their failure to properly administer at least $255,570 in public funds.

“Ms. Roberts blatantly disregarded county procurement authority, or any authority for that matter, in her efforts to get Mr. Michaud the CVB’s business under her control.

“Even after CVB managers reported the relationship and misuse to Ms. Grossman, she continued to allow her subordinates to operate outside the county’s procurement process and failed to ensure that her unauthorized practices were working to stop her agency’s imprudent spending of taxpayer money.

“The misdeeds that we identified in our investigation exemplify the need for proper procurement as a check against such internal corruption. Here, the corruption that CVB management allowed unabated led to the unlawful enrichment of one vendor—a CVB manager’s boyfriend—and gave reason to the public generally and potential vendors particularly to distrust Broward County government.

“The conditions and conduct we detail in this report have discontinued.

"A new President/CEO, who replaced Ms. Grossman in mid-2016, has effected several laudable changes within the CVB, including Ms. Roberts’s resignation and the agency’s overhaul of its financial administrative practices, including how it procures vendor services. And, after the OIG issued its preliminary report in this matter, the only remaining county employee named herein, Mr. Harb, resigned.”

According to WPLG, Grossman was replaced in mid-2016 and Harb resigned October 1. Inspector General John W. Scott requested that the county provides a status report on changes in the CVB’s procurement process.

The deadline for the status report is set for January 25, 2019.

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