By Jim Bleyer
Darryl Shaw, who has built a multi-million dollar real estate empire in Ybor City, may be one of the Republican “investors” who helped bail the Tampa Bay Times out of its economic morass earlier this year, sources have told Tampa Bay Beat
In a call to Shaw’s corporate headquarters, Tampa Bay Beat was told he was “unavailable.” Carrie O’Brien, his media relations representative, said that if Shaw is a Tampa Bay Times investor, “he hasn’t shared that information with me.”
Shaw certainly fits the profile of the typical Times rescuer: prominent GOP donor, one percenter, a beneficiary of very favorable coverage by the TBT, a penchant for anonymity, and someone who can leverage editorial policy into enhancing his fortune.
Shaw stands to make hundreds of millions if a new stadium for the Tampa Bay Rays is relocated to Ybor City. The Times has been a strong advocate of exploring Hillsborough County for stadium sites to replace St. Petersburg’s Tropicana Field.
Also benefitting from a stadium relocation to Tampa’s Channelside/Ybor neighborhood would be Jeff Vinik, another Times financial booster. Vinik’s Strategic Property Partners is developing 50 acres in Channelside.
The Times has incessantly championed pumping public funds into any new stadium and Vinik’s “Water Street Tampa.” Shaw and Vinik would be considered to have made an extremely worthwhile $1.5 million “investment.”
With a reputation for staying off the radar, “no comment” historically tops the list of Shaw utterances. Founder and CEO of BluePearl Veterinary Partners, he is rarely photographed without a lovable-looking canine at his side (above photo cropped).
O’Brien, a former writer for the St. Petersburg Times, characterized her boss “as a low key kind of guy. He doesn’t grant many interviews.”
If an “investor,” Shaw would join known backers Jeff Vinik and Kiran Patel whose names were not initially revealed. The latter pair were outed by La Gaceta Ybor.
The remaining known Times investors include Frank Morsani, Ted Couch, Robert Rothman, and Poynter Institute board member and Times publisher Paul Tash and his wife. Still unknown are one to three other Times investors depending on whether the loan reached an announced $15 million ceiling.
All the benefactors, who each chipped in $1.5 million for a share in the Times rescue package, that have been identified– made substantial donations to Republicans including Trump, Mitt Romney, George W. Bush, Rick Scott, Paul Ryan, and Jeb Bush.
Tash made the announcement of the Times bailout on June 30 amid the newspaper’s immediate editorial pivot from progressive to right wing. Prominent businesspeople and politicians have told Tampa Bay Beat that the Times, by capitulating its independence, has lost the trust of citizens on both sides of Tampa Bay regardless of political affiliation.
Two months before Tash’s revelation, the Times ran a homage article to Shaw describing his Ybor real estate ventures. In August, Tash told the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club that he prioritized “reconnecting” with Trump voters.
Shaw’s Ybor $63+million investment could very well include more acquisitions.
Two other entities that show Shaw’s home address or the Carrollwood post office box have spent another $4.4 million on a string of purchases in Ybor City. They are Fox International LLC and the Broadway Bar Land Trust.
Shaw, whose name does not appear on any of the deeds, incorporation registry or other paperwork associated with those two entities, refused to comment, according to the April Times story.
Employee reviews on Glassdoor make working conditions at BluePearl sound like a sweatshop. In addition, Shaw is not shy about greasing the palms of local politicians to extend his influence.
An Oct. 12 column by Sharon Calvert in her Eye on Tampa Bay blog noted:
“Companies controlled by Darryl Shaw, who has been dubbed “Ybor’s big new (development) player,” gave $5,000 to Hillsborough Commissioner Ken Hagan last month, according to campaign finance reports. Shaw’s wife and a company she controls also each chipped in $1,000, the maximum-allowable donation for the 2018 election.
Hagan is the key political player in any stadium relocation decision and is up for re-election next year though for a different commission seat than the one he currently occupies.
The scorecard if an Ybor/Channelside Rays stadium reaches fruition: Winners—Darryl Shaw, Jeff Vinik, Stu Sternberg, the Tampa Bay Times, and Ken Hagan. Losers—Hillsborough County taxpayers.
Prior to establishing BluePearl in 2008: Shaw worked as a Certified Public Accountant at Deloitte & Touche in Tampa.
A complaint challenging the Poynter Institute for Media Studies status as a non-profit has been received by the Internal Revenue Service. One of the charges in the complaint is the Poynter/Times becoming embroiled in political races in its news pages and behind the scenes in addition to its editorials.
If the IRS finds that Poynter misappropriated or co-mingled funds, violated its mission statement, failed to adhere to the wishes of its founder Nelson Poynter or participated in political activity, the Institute would lose its status as a 501(c)(3) charitable organization.