Broward defends funding $140M hotel with federal COVID relief

Some Republicans found it egregious that $140 million of federal government aid was funding a 29-story luxury hotel.

The funds for the 800-room hotel at the Greater Fort Lauderdale Broward County Convention Center come from the $350 billion American Rescue Plan, also known as the COVID-19 Stimulus Package.

“It’s hard to imagine how a four-star hotel is helping fund the pain of COVID,” said Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, who wanted to set more limits on how the money was spent.

Broward County commissioners found a way to make it legal and responded to criticism with a statement on Friday. They tasked Monica Cepero, the county’s administrator and not an elected official, with releasing it to the public.

Cepero said the hotel project “clearly” meets this guidance: A recipient of American Rescue Plan Act funds may provide aid for “a planned expansion or upgrade of tourism, travel and hospitality facilities delayed due to the pandemic.”

The hotel was among the projects the Associated Press identified as “spending disasters” because of “permissive” Treasury Department rules.

Related story: Pandemic relief money spent on hotel, ballpark, ski slopes

Liz Bourgeois, a spokeswoman for the Treasury Department, told The Associated Press the funds are meant to help local governments to “recover from financial distress” and “achieve their own strategies for restoring jobs.”

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Watch the Thursday report

Broward County officials allocated about $140 million in COVID-relief funds to build a new Convention Center hotel.Read More


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