Aquarium founder blames Rowe

Press Release: We were taken in by Rodney Rowe because of his self-purported political clout and understanding of running a not-for-profit. Mr. Rowe introduced himself to me back in October as the Campaign Manager for Governor Rick Scott. He even introduced me to the Governor in October upon driving in on his campaign tour bus with him.

Mr. Rowe was given considerable amount of responsibility that he asked to be given. This was based on his experience he claimed to have in campaign management and understanding of operating a not-for-profit and the fact that he was self-employed and had considerable more time than other board members to work on the project.

Mr. Rowe was supposed to have been present at ECUA’s Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) meeting on January 19th to present the letters he supposedly had for political support and our signatures.

We discovered from Jamie Page’s investigation that followed the CAC meeting that he has deceived us and misrepresented the facts regarding political support. Since learning from Jamie Page’s investigation of Mr. Rowe’s misrepresentation of the political support of our proposal, we have gone back and verified the actions and work of Mr. Rowe. We have learned we were deceived and misrepresented on other things as well.

While not able to contact him or not having heard from him since January 18th the day before we met with ECUA’s Citizens Advisory Committee, we have been able to retrieve what appears to be approximately half of our written signatures from Mr. Rowe. He was responsible for processing (counting, copying and scanning) the written signatures. These signatures were presented to the City Council on December 16th. We have also determined there to be huge discrepancy between the number of electronic signatures Mr. Rowe has been reporting to us all along and what we are now verifying.

These actions by Mr. Rowe have done considerable damage to our cause. It is even more disturbing when I think back how Mr. Rowe repeatedly warned me that we have to guard against con artists and infiltrators that may want to sabotage our project.

I realize that I was too trusting of Mr. Rowe, regret it and again apologize to the citizens of Escambia County for not verifying or substantiating the work done by him. However, these setbacks will not deter us from going forward. I feel that Aquarium for Pensacola is trustee to the will of the citizens of Escambia County and there is still strong citizen’s support for the project. I remain convinced that an aquarium and marine research will be great for our community, our economy and remain diligent to making it a reality.

We are in the process of seeing what political support there is for the project. As long as we are not proposing the use of City or County money or federal earmarks and with the possibility of private funding, I believe there will be political support at the state and federal level.