Conflicts of Interest
We have identified at least two conflicts of interest in Barbara Poma's leadership of the OnePULSE Foundation.
Barbara Poma does not represent a unified group of survivors and family members and we think this is a problem.
Barbara Poma has had two main conflicts of interest as CEO of the OnePulse Foundation: (1) her ownership of the Pulse nightclub property, which she declined to sell to the City of Orlando for $2.25M (a more than fair price substantially higher than the property's assessed value); and (2) an ongoing negligence lawsuit with survivors and victim's family members.
The first—maintaining ownership of the Pulse nightclub property—has skewed every step of the development process and has led to biased communications that favor building a memorial museum.
From the onset, survey questions and public town halls showed bias and centered around the design and building of a memorial museum, with little room for presenting a public memorial park as a viable alternative.
Time for a robust public debate was not given and the methods of public engagement did not consider all of those affected by the mass shooting. Instead, town halls and community talks were presentations that many were not ready or willing to participate in following the trauma of the mass shooting. People from affected communities still fear crowded public settings and online viewership is not equivalent to full participation.
Moving forward, any memorial project must include neutral, unbiased surveys, as well as open, accessible, and interactive digital platforms for public engagement.
Secondly, a large group of family members of victims and survivors has been suing Barbara Poma.
What's more, is that these two conflicts of interest are overlapping. The lawsuit has alleged that Barbara Poma illegally transferred the Pulse Nightclub property, selling it for $100 in the aftermath of the shooting. We want to know why this was done?
You can see on public record that the property, located at 1912 S. Orange Avenue, was sold for $100 via a Quit Claim Deed on November 4, 2016. This was one month BEFORE Barbara and Rosario Poma announced to the public that they were not going to sell their property to the City of Orlando. We provided all the property deeds for you to review here, here, and here. We also provide you with the timeline for these transactions as shown on the Orange County Property Appraiser site below:
According to public records, 71495 RPB LLC was started on October 13, 2016, less than four months after the shooting. This is the same day that Barbara and Rosario Poma filed for 1299 Sia LLC. Using attorney Robert Underwood as the Registered Agent Name, Barbara and Rosario Poma are also listed as owners (either together or separately) of the following LLC's: JNP49, LLC (which was also filed on October 13, 2016; we wonder if this name has anything to do with the 49 killed), Pacino's INC (since May 1, 1995), and A P of Orlando, INC (which started in 1995 and dissolved in 2002). There are most likely more, as we did not see the business registrations for Wildside's or OnePULSE through our initial name searches. This is likely because different attorneys are recorded as registered agents.
On October 4, 2018, a new person was added to the 1299 Sia LLC owned by Barbara and Rosario Poma that is now also part-owner of the Pulse Nightclub property. This person is listed as Mike Panaggio at 2441 Bellevue Avenue in Daytona Beach, FL 32114. According to what we were able to find, Mike Panaggio is an investor and "philanthropist" who owns Direct Mail Express—a direct marketing company that was started in 1982. We are not sure why he was added to this LLC or what his relationship to the Poma's and/or Pulse is since the shooting. However, we are looking into it.
Why Quit Claim the property to two different LLCs that you own, when you are still the owners of the property? Why not sell to the City of Orlando and then add an investor/philanthropist to one of the LLCs that owns the Pulse Nightclub property? If one's intentions are pure, we do not understand why all of these LLCs are necessary. The City of Orlando announced plans to buy Pulse in November 8, 2016, but by that time Rosario and Barbara Poma already opened new LLCs and sold the property to themselves via Quit Claim Deed. So they never wanted to sell the property to the City of Orlando. Here's the timeline according to public records:
June 12, 2016 - Shooting occurred.
October 13, 2016 - Three new LLCs are opened by Barbara and Rosario Poma, including 1299 Sia, 71495 RPB, and JNP49.
November 4, 2016 - Barbara and Rosario Poma Quit Claim Deed the Pulse Nightclub Property to 1299 Sia and 71495 RPB, which they own.
November 8, 2016 - Mayor Dyer announced plans to buy the Pulse Nightclub Property.
December 5, 2016 - Barbara Poma "unexpectedly" announces that she was not going to sell the property to the city. Almost exactly one month after the Poma's sold it to themselves for $100.
Regardless of the outcome of this lawsuit, it is illogical to suggest that Ms. Poma can effectively represent the best interests of the entire diverse group of affected communities without bias. Thus, it is not possible for Barbara Poma to be the unifying leader that this monumental project requires. These conflicts of interest alone justify our request for Barbara Poma to resign from her leadership role at the OnePULSE Foundation.
Questions we want answers to:
1. How much money was spent on the property at 1912 S Orange Ave, Orlando, FL 32806 between June 2016 and today? Records indicate this number is around $100k for the interim memorial. This number should include costs to secure and police the property, in addition to all construction costs to renovate the property for the interim memorial. Where did this money come from? Was Barbara Poma's interest in and ownership of the property ever addressed when this spending approved by the Board?
2. How were approvals for these expenditures decided? Who approved? Is there documented evidence of this process? Has anyone in the OnePULSE Foundation addressed a possible conflict of interest due to property ownership by Barbara Poma and allegations that the property was illegally transferred?
3. As co-owners of the Pulse Nightclub, how much insurance money did Barbara and Rosario Poma collect in the aftermath of the shooting? Where did this money go?
4. Are there any other ways that Barbara Poma, as an owner of the property, has directly or indirectly benefited from the activities and investments made by the OnePULSE Foundation?
5. Does the OnePULSE Foundation have a conflict of interest policy? According to Guidestar it does and all Board members have signed it. If so, when was this drafted? Who drafted it? When was this made publicly available? How is this timeline documented and verified? Did the Board directly address what we have outlined as conflicts of interest? We demand the OnePULSE Foundation make public all signed disclosure statements as well.