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Local / State

State Workers Can No Longer Give At The Office

U.S. Sen. Rick Scott said Sunday that he was never told by Homeland Security officials in 2016 when he was Florida's governor that Russian hackers had gained access to voter databases in two Florida counties ahead of the presidential election.
MyFloridaHouse.gov
Florida Gov. Rick Scott before the Florida House.

Following negative publicity about administrative costs, as well as a critical audit, the administration of Gov. Rick Scott announced Thursday that it had suspended a program that allowed state workers to make charitable donations through their paychecks.

Participation in the annual charity drive — which began nearly 40 years ago —  had plummeted since the Scott administration shifted control from the United Way of Florida to a New Jersey company called Solix. Due to the way the state structured the contract Solix in 2014 and 2015 wound up getting paid more than it was distributing to charities.

In 2010 state employees donated more than $3.3 million to charities through the program, but this fall they only pledged $280,000. Under its contract Solix stood to earn $180,000 — or 63 percent — of the money pledged. Department of Management Services Secretary Chad Poppell last month asked Solix to lower its fees, but the company said it couldn't find a way to reduce costs any further.

Company officials asked to terminate the contract with the state and Poppell agreed. He notified employees that their donations would not be deducted from their paychecks. He urged them to donate to charities directly. His decision to suspend the program was first reported by The Tallahassee Democrat.

Maggie Mickler, a spokeswoman for Poppell, said that Solix had "worked in good faith" with the state and blamed the drop in participation on the ability of employees to use online methods to donate to their favorite charities.

"Employees don't value this method of giving anymore," Mickler said.

A representative for Solix did not respond to an email requesting comment.