The wife of a South Florida Sun-Sentinel senior editorial writer served as the treasurer for a political committee run by Burnadette Norris Weeks, the lawyer for Broward Supervisor of Elections Office (SOE). State of Florida campaign documents show Doris Harrell served as the treasurer for “The Right Group,” a committee formed by Norris Weeks in 2003. After repeated “fail to fine” letters and fines, the committee was disbanded in June 2013.
Doris Harrell is the wife of editorial writer Douglas C. Lyons. One of the official addresses used by the committee is the Loxahatchee home previously owned by Harrell and Lyons. Several letters from the State of Florida were sent to Harrell at the Loxahatchee address.
Financial reports for The Right Group show Harrell contributed $250 in 2007. In ten years of existence, The Right Group raised $48,125 mainly from “dues from members.” The identity of these members is unclear.
The Right Group spent $34,000 over the ten years. Norris Weeks’ committee made contributions to the political campaigns of Perry Thurston, Joe Eggelletion, Joe Gibbons, Alain Jean, Eric Jones, Margaret Bates, Chris Smith, Carlton Moore, Albert Jones, Brenda Snipes and even Stacy Ritter.
Commissioner Ritter wants Dr. Snipes to keep SOE employees from becoming involved in elections office matters regarding candidates they have supported or endorsed.
Earlier this month, a South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial supported the Ritter proposal (originally submitted by Commissioner Mark Bogen) calling on Snipes to, “Apply the highest ethical standards, integrity and professionalism, and avoid even the appearance of impropriety.” The editorial described Norris Weeks’ actions in the legal dispute over the County Commission District 2 race; “Norris-Weeks guided and defended the supervisor’s response to his lawsuit, in a case that began over the residency of a write-in candidate. With Norris-Week’s support, Snipes decided not to count the votes of the August primary that showed Bogen had won — effectively giving his opponents more time to campaign.”
Three days after the editorial was published, Lyons announced he was no longer with the Sun-Sentinel.
As REDBROWARD reported, Lyons had been one of Norris Weeks’ biggest supporters. He attended a panel on elections at Norris Weeks’ South Florida Women Of Color conference. The panel featured Dr. Snipes giving advice on how to run an effective campaign.
In an October 2012 South Florida Sun-Sentinel article, Lyons praised Norris Weeks’ work to get President Obama re-elected. Lyons wrote, “Even better, other black professionals and organizations have organized similar efforts. Take today’s early morning ‘Steps to the Polls,’ a march from downtown Fort Lauderdale to one of the early voting polling sites at the African American Research Library and Cultural Center…spearheaded by prominent attorney Burnadette Norris Weeks, is just one of several last-minute attempts to rally the faithful to take advantage of early voting and tip the scales of a razor-thin race in Florida to the president’s advantage.”
Last September, Lyons wrote a South Florida Sun-Sentinel article comparing Norris Weeks to civil rights hero Florynce Kennedy. He wrote about Norris Weeks’ plan to build a non-profit center on Sistrunk Boulevard. Lyons wrote, “To many, it’s a gamble. Launching a research facility isn’t easy, particularly in an area too many people associate with crime, poverty and urban decay. Norris-Weeks wants to prove all the skeptics wrong, something that would make ‘Flo’ Kennedy smile.”
Lyons never disclosed to readers his wife’s ties to Burnadette Norris Weeks.