Broward GOP Chairman Rico Petrocelli’s attempt to place a non-BREC member on an important congressional district committee embarrassed local GOP leaders including the co-chair of the Republican National Committee. The move came at last weekend’s Republican Party Of Florida meetings in Orlando. Petrocelli, members of the new BREC board, State Committeeman Ryan Anderson and RNC co-Chair Sharon Day made up the Broward delegation. One of the major items on the agenda was elections to fill congressional district committees across Florida. Local party chairs and state committee persons can nominate individuals from their counties.
A printed list of Petrocelli’s nominations was circulated before the meeting began. However, once the proceedings began it was clear Petrocelli planned to abandon his list. First, he nominated Michael DeGruccio, the polarizing former secretary of the Broward GOP. State Committeeman Anderson nominated longtime committeeman Chad Lincoln to challenge DeGruccio. A vote by the RPOF leadership handed Lincoln a decisive victory over DeGruccio.
According to several insiders the real fun was about to begin. For the next opening, Petrocelli nominated an individual who was not even a member of the Broward GOP. In fact, this person no longer resides in Broward county. Petrocelli never disclosed this information. Only after the votes were taken did it become public knowledge. The nominee admitted to presenting BREC membership paperwork that very morning. The RPOF was forced to table the vote until the next quarterly meeting. Witnesses say Sharon Day was incensed that Petrocelli allowed Broward’s “dirty laundry” to be aired in front of the entire RPOF.
Why Petrocelli would pull such a questionable maneuver at his first RPOF meeting as Broward GOP chairman.? Some insiders speculate Petrocelli was attempting to curry favor with Florida Governor Rick Scott. The nominee in question has close ties to the Governor’s office. Petrocelli currently serves as chairman of the Broward County Housing Authority. Nominated by Charlie Crist in 2009, Petrocelli’s term ends this year. Petrocelli, a Crist loyalist, would need to be re-nominated by Governor Scott.
Others wonder if Petrocelli has come under the influence of DeGruccio. A longtime Broward Republican volunteer, DeGruccio did not seek re-election as party secretary after it became clear he had lost the support of many party activists. These activists were upset by DeGruccio’s actions during the November elections.
First, DeGruccio decided to ignore the Broward GOP endorsement of school board candidate Rochelle Solomon by issuing his our written endorsement of her opponent Abby Freedman. Ms. Freedman, a close political ally of Democrat Sheriff Candidate Scott Israel, used DeGruccio’s letter to convince voters that she had the support of the Broward GOP. Freedman ended up defeating Solomon and Israel beat Republican Sheriff Al Lamberti.
Then, during early voting, pictures surfaced of DeGruccio hanging out at a polling place with a militant Democrat activist. The photograph of DeGruccio and Michael Rajner was featured on Buddy Nevins’ BrowardBeat.com. Ranjer was behind the August 2011 boycott of Congressman Allen West. Earlier this year, Rajner revealed personal information regarding a member of State Senator Ellyn Bogdanoff’s family.
Despite the outrage from grassroots Republican activists, Petrocelli named DeGruccio his “Director of Party Development.” The duties of this newly-created position have not been made public. It is unclear if this is a paid position.
After returning late Saturday night from Orlando, Petrocelli took to Facebook to thank DeGruccio for his “knowledge and contacts.” While he did thank Sharon Day for her “help”, Petrocelli never mentioned his fellow BREC board members.
This is the latest misstep in Petrocelli’s one-month reign as Broward GOP chairman. RED BROWARD previously reported on Petrocelli’s controversial plan to hold as few as six BREC meetings in 2013.
Maybe “the Chairmen” were on to something?