Emerald Coast postpones giveaway amid scandal
Last month, the Emerald Coast Convention Center announced its Treasure Quest Giveaway, an online promotion that was to award five meeting planners with promotional packages that totaled $225,000. Last week, the center postponed the giveaway due to “unforeseen circumstances,” according to a press release, but it’s likely due to an embezzlement scandal that has enveloped the Okaloosa County Tourist Development Council.
Former Executive Director of the TDC Mark Bellinger died on Friday, May 4. An arrest warrant had been issued for Bellinger, who was being charged with grand theft and a misuse of public funds, according to the Northwest Florida Daily News. On May 1, he resigned after admitting to county commissioners that he purchased a $710,000 yacht with public money. He was also being accused of using money that BP gave the TDC after the oil spill to buy a $747,000 home. Other allegations were also being brought against him. He died of a suspected drug overdose.
Greg Donovan, the Okaloosa airport director, is now serving as interim TDC director.