The first-term Mayor of Apopka has taken thousands from Amscot Financial and its founder, Ian MacKechnie.
By Jacob Engels
Apopka Mayor Joe Kilsheimer cannot seem to stay out of trouble. We reported last year that he founded a for-profit company that sought taxpayer funds for felon rehabilitation, despite Kilsheimer having no background on the matter.
Kilsheimer infamously created Certified Second Chance, INC, the for-profit company with now State Representative Bobby Olszweski and perennial political candidate Deveron Gibbons of the Tampa area. Gibbons is also Amscot Financial’s Senior VP of Public Relations… we will get back to Amscot in a minute.
Within thirty days of formation and with no relevant experience in the lot, Kilsheimer spearheaded a request for $500,000 in taxpayer funds to be directed to his for-profit company that found support from Kilsheimers friend, State Senator Randolph Bracy.
Mayor Kilsheimer even wanted to use the City of Apopka as the test market in his for-profit venture funded by Florida taxpayers. He is still under a state-sanctioned ethics investigation after a brave resident of Apopka dared to publicly challenge the Mayor’s taxpayer funded startup.
The Central Florida Post exposed this scheme in April of last year and uncovered the fact that Kilsheimer and his cronies would direct $400,000 of the $500,000 taxpayer investment into “studies” and “consulting” fees. Only a fraction of the investment would go towards actual felon rehabilitation.
Now, we have discovered that Kilsheimer, a former top Orlando Sentinel employee, has attempted to enrich an uber-wealthy donor’s company. As an Apopka Commissioner in 2013, Kilsheimer pushed the City of Apopka to use Amscot as the “drop-off” point for sewage, water, and garbage collection bills.
This is important to note because Amscot Financial and it’s founder have donated thousands to Kilsheimers re-election campaign for Mayor, according to campaign finance reports. They were also once Mr. Kilsheimer’s top clients at his public relations firm.
Amscot is one of those payday lenders that is known to prey on lower-income and minority communities with their predatory payday loans. Most of their customers live week to week or even day to day. The company was also in the insurance business for some time, before it got caught up in a high-profile fraud and racketeering case in 1998.
Ian MacKechnie, Amscot’s founder would end up making a deal with prosecutors, they would drop the charges if Amscot stopped selling insurance. So, Amscot was out of the insurance business.
According to our sources, Kilsheimer has plans to bring back his proposal to use Amscot as the “drop-off” point for city sewage, garbage, and water bills if he wins a second term.
Undoubtedly, Amscot would charge a processing fee, a political payback of sorts for one of Kilsheimer’s top donors in his quest for a second term.
Unfortunately, it is not the first time Kilsheimer has been caught enriching people or organizations that have direct personal connections to the Mayor. For years, he has earmarked tens of thousands in City of Apopka funds for the “City of Life” foundation, a non-profit where he once sat on the board of directors.
The City of Life foundation has allegedly has failed to provide measurable results for its activities funded with the blessing of Mayor Joe Kilsheimer, according to our sources within the City of Apopka.
The people of Apopka deserve so much more in their leader. Someone who will spend time working to make Apopka a safer and cleaner community, not a Mayor in the mold of Kilsheimer who feverishly finds ways to fatten his pockets on the public dime.
As our election process dictates, the people will have to decide for themselves if they approve of this wanton disregard for the respect commanded by those honored with high public service.
Do your duty and vote on March 13th Apopka, it is all up to YOU.
Jacob Engels is an Orlando based journalist whose work has been featured and republished in news outlets around the globe including Politico, InfoWars, MSNBC, Orlando Sentinel, New York Times, Daily Mail UK, Associated Press, People Magazine, ABC, Fox News, and Australia’s New Dawn Magazine. Mr. Engels focuses on stories that other news outlets neglect or willingly hide to curry favor among the political and business special interests in the state of Florida.