In what could be an amazing coincidence, it appears that since Mayor Lenny Curry took office, the city of Jacksonville has been paying the salary of Curry’s heir apparent.
Timing is everything.
In 2015, Curry was elected mayor of Jacksonville. Also in 2015, the Jacksonville Chamber received $200,000 from the Jacksonville annual budget.
Since 2015, the Chamber has received more than $2 million from Duval County taxpayers via the consolidated city budget.
Curry has requested $750,000 for the Chamber in the fiscal year 2022-23 budget.
In 1978, the Chamber formed a 501(c)(3) foundation, the JaxChamber Foundation. The Foundation has filed an IRS form 990 since 2015, but not after 2019. These filings show that, through the foundation, Daniel Davis has received an annual salary since 2015. Davis became CEO of the Chamber in 2013.
From 2015 to 2019, Davis received more than $1,952,938.00 in salary and compensation. That is almost exactly what the Chamber has received from the city.
Davis, who has been head of the Northeast Builders Association, a member of the City Council and a state representative, is planning to run for mayor next year. He has amassed a huge war chest — big enough to scare off potential challengers such as City Council Member Matt Carlucci. Searching the Jacksonville city budget back to 2007 shows no money going to the Chamber before 2015. Why did the Chamber suddenly begin receiving money from the city in 2015, the same year Curry was elected mayor?
Taxpayers deserve an answer to this multimillion-dollar question. The Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce began as the “Board of Trade” in 1856. It became inactive during the Civil War, and was revived in 1884, with former Florida Gov. George F. Drew as its first president. The Board of Trade was incorporated in 1893 and officially changed its name to Chamber of Commerce in 1915.
The Chamber is a non-profit organization of mostly business owners and requires annual membership fees.