A website dedicated to news about West Palm Beach, promoted on the city’s official website and owned and operated by a former city spokesperson, has no formal affiliation with the city.
WPB.news is run by former city spokesperson Elliot Cohen, who resigned in August just before the release of an Inspector General’s report critical of the city and Cohen.
The WPB.news website was registered in July 2015, by Cohen Publicity, a company controlled by Elliot Cohen, who at that time was still employed by West Palm Beach.
Its twitter handle, @wwwWPBnews, also prominently displays the city’s logo but says it is not affiliated with the city and its content is independent.
On the city’s official website, wpb.org, there are multiple stories promoting WPB.news and encouraging visitors to check out the website and follow @wwwpbnews on twitter.
In spite of the appearance of a formal relationship, city administrator Jeff Green said there is no contract between the city and the operator of the site, which uses the city’s logo and posts stories that also appear on West Palm Beach’s official website.
Asked about Cohen’s use of the city’s logo, Green said the city failed to trademark its logo and has not looked into the matter.
The OIG report does not address the fact that Cohen used city resources to promote a website owned and run by his private company, though it does say Cohen used his position and city resources to run his private side business.
We reached out to Palm Beach County Inspector General John Carey who said he was unaware of Cohen’s website and the links promoting it on the city’s official website.
"This is new information", said Carey. "We will have to do some initial research on this."
We also reached out to Elliot Cohen, who said he does do some subcontractor work for Aqua Marketing and Communications, which does have a contract with the city.
Cohen said wpb.news is his own website and it does not have anything to do with his subcontracting job.