FL restaurant cuts ties to local firm over bribe claim

JACKSONVILLE, FL: A news story about an alleged $10,000 bribe attempt has led to the end of a relationship between a restaurant franchise and its local promotional agency.

JACKSONVILLE, FL: A news story about an alleged $10,000 bribe attempt has led to the end of a relationship between a restaurant franchise and its local promotional agency.

The firm, Jacksonville-based Client Focused Media (CFM), had been working for The Grape restaurant and wine bar in the city, handling area promotions and marketing tasks. But, according to local TV station CBS-47, CFM head Mike White tried to influence a news story the station was preparing about The Grape's health code violations by offering bribes.

CBS-47 reported that White first offered two cases of wine to its reporter if he "took it easy" on The Grape. After that offer was declined, the station said, White approached the story's producer with the offer of $10,000 in exchange for not airing the story.

CBS-47 broadcast its story on the incident late last month and posted an account on its website, but did not return messages seeking further comment.

White told PRWeek that "the story was ... put way out of context," but declined to elaborate.

"We don't spend any money with Clear Channel, so for some reason they create a story and try to bash us with it," he said.

White referred calls to his attorney, as well as to The Grape's PR firm, The Reynolds Group in Atlanta.

In a statement, White's attorney, Kelly Corsmeier, said, "The allegations are patently untrue."

Reynolds president Mary Reynolds said CFM was a "third-party firm" working on behalf of a single franchisee. That relationship ended after the CBS-47 story ran, she said.

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