Tom Clapsaddle rats out SVAA chair Palmer Wilson in email exchange with Councilwoman Deb Denys leading to ouster

Ratting out episode leads to coveted chairmanship, free meal at taxpayer expense

Tom Clapsaddle and Carl Watson chow down at taxpayers' expense with SVAA credit card / Headline Surfer®DAYTONA BEACH -- It was the ultimate betrayal. An email sent by then-Southeast Volusia Advertising Authority Vice Chairman Tom Clapsaddle to County Councilwoman Deb Denys sitting on the dais with rumor and innuendo that led to the ouster of his colleague and board chairman, Palmer Wilson that October day.

Clapsaddle literally served to rat out his friend for his own political ambition and Denys' campaign funding fattened. He was given Wilson's chairmanship three days later and treated to a free meal at taxpayer expense.

This led to SAVV Executive Director Carl Watson getting caught using the tourism entity's credit card or meal purchases for himself, Clapsaddle, the office manager and others.

Wilson's replacement on the tourism board, Gene Sheldon, responded to an email sent out by Watson acknowledging he had illegally used the credit card and had paid back what was owed.

But Sheldon was incensed that someone had tipped off Headline Surfer® to Watson's transgression in the first place and responded in the same email string by demanding, "Who's the rat?"

Clapsaddle and Vice Chair Tony Stagni weighed in as well, all in violation of Florida's government in the Sunshine statute.

It as on Oct. 10, that Denys led a 4-3 vote to have Wilson removed from his chairmanship and seat on the seven-member-tourism board that oversees tourist events in New Smyrna Beach, Edgewater, Oak Hill, Port Orange and Osteen in unincorportated Volusia with a 1.6 millin annual budget paid for with bed taxes from overnight hotel and condo rental stays.

Editor's Note: This story is being updated for completeness.


Timeline of Events

Aug. 8 • Palmer Wilson chairs SVAA meeting + +

Discussion on budgets for SE Volusia and Pourt Orange chambers of commerce.

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Short Bio

Henry Frederick is publisher of Headline Surfer®, the award-winning 24/7 internet news outlet covering the Daytona Beach-Sanford-Orlando metro area via since 2008. A longtime cops & courts reporter focused on breaking news & investigative reporting, Frederick is among the Sunshine State's most prolific daily news reporters, having amassed close to a hundred award-winning byline stories nearly evenly split in print and digital platforms. Frederick earned his Master of Arts in New Media Journalism with academic honors from Full Sail University in Winter Park in February 2019. He was a metro reporter with the Daytona Beach News-Journal for nearly a decade and then served as a city editor for the Taunton Daily Gazette in Taunton, Mass, while maintaining a residence in Central Florida. Prior to moving to Florida, Frederick was a metro reporter for the Rockland Journal-News in West Nyack, NY, for seven years. Headline Surfer was named the Sunshine State's top internet news site by the Florida Press Club in 2018.