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Florida lawmakers seek records from Emeril Lagasse show

A television show once helmed by famed chef Emeril Lagasse is at the center of a legal battle between Florida state lawmakers and the show's production company. It involves the Florida House's demand for records from The Cooking Channel show "Emeril's Florida."

On that show, the celebrity chef visited restaurants throughout the state. Over five years, the production company, MAT Media, reportedly received a minimum of $10 million from Visit Florida, which is "the state's official tourism marketing corporation."

Now, the Florida House has subpoenaed the production company for documents including tax returns and contracts with cable networks. Lawmakers also want to know how much money was paid directly to Lagasse and to the producer who owns MAT Media.

However, the producer, who is based in Tallahassee, says that these documents include information about the business as well as trade secrets that need to remain confidential. His attorneys are working to block the subpoena.

One of the lawyers called out Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran, who has been talked about as a future gubernatorial candidate, for "his drive for publicity, power and higher office" which "has trampled over the rights of private businesses and individuals that properly contracted services with a quasi-state agency."

Corcoran responded that the subpoena is appropriate. About the producer, he said, "If it's a fight he wants, then it's a fight he'll get. We will win."

The producer and his company have countered with a lawsuit against the House committee that is seeking the documentation and against Speaker Corcoran in an effort to stave off having to provide the information that they assert is confidential.

It remains to be seen how this plays out, and whether the courts determine that the producers and others involved with the show would be harmed if the information became public. The final decision could impact future cases where government bodies and others seek to determine how money that they invested in a project was spent.

Source: Orlando Sentinel, "Producer sues to keep Emeril cooking show records from Corcoran," David Centeno, Nov. 03, 2017

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