Could the Broward Democratic Executive Committee’s (DEC) “deepening black problem” be part of a political power play targeting Florida State Rep. Katie Edwards (D-Plantation)? As REDBROWARD reported, local Democrat activists are angered by the firing of office director Michael Howson by interim Party Chair Cynthia Busch. Corey Shearer, President of the Broward County Black Democratic Caucus, believes the firing of the Broward Democratic Party’s office director “smells funny to the Black community.”
Busch became the interim head of the DEC on August 11 after longtime party chairman Mitch Ceasar announced his bid for the Broward Clerk of Courts. Busch told Buddy Nevins of BrowardBeat, “[Howson] was doing a fine job, I just don’t think we need an (office) operations director….he was not fired. He was laid off.” Howson is well-regarded activist in the African-American and LGBT communities. Busch admitted the move angered rank and file Democrats. “There are people who are friends with him who are Democrats who are upset,” Busch conceded.
On Saturday, Shearer sent an email to party activists detailing his problems with the firing of Howson. “This week, the less expensive, large, Black, openly gay, outspoken but yet still quite service oriented young man of great experience but also of great youth, was replaced with the more expensive, tall, slender white guy who is more subdued and highly customer service oriented although seemingly slightly less experienced,” Shearer wrote. The “white guy” is DEC political director Travis Perron.
THE “WHITE GUY”
In 2014, Perron managed the disastrous campaign of State Rep. Linda Stewart (D-Orlando). In February 2014, Federal law enforcement officials executed a drug raid on a house owned by Stewart. A published report claimed Stewart’s 35-year-old daughter may have been falsely claiming to live in the house so she could vote in Stewart’s district.
Sunshine State News reports Travis Perron was “hired with the help of Florida Democratic Party Chair Allison Tant, for a salary of $30,000 a year.” Busch told SSN that Howson’s and Perron’s positions aren’t similar, as Perron was hired as the DEC’s political director.
BUSCH EMAIL UNDERMINES FIRING RATIONALE
SSN reports Busch sent a July email to Ceasar and other party officials detailing her problems with Howson’s politics. Party sources told REDBROWARD that Busch and her ally, State Committeeman Ken Evans saw Howson as a Ceasar ally. In her email, Busch complained about Howson’s affiliation with the Black Caucus and immigration groups.
“I am particularly upset that Michael is as of Monday flagrantly disregarding this directive and asserting that he does not wish to follow our policy as the Chair stated it at the meeting,” Busch wrote. “He is also winding up members of the Black Caucus and encouraging volunteers in the office to berate our political director and call him a racist for trying to make sure the office is run in a professional manner. This is a very serious problem and is possible grounds for punitive action under BDP and FDP bylaws.”
This email undermines Busch’s argument that Howson was simply “laid off” due to monetary reasons.
SSN reports Howson is “days away” from filing a racial discrimination suit against the DEC.
PLOT AGAINST KATIE EDWARDS?
A May 2015 The Florida Squeeze article may offer more clues behind the firing of Howson. Kartik Krishnaiyer reported some Broward DEC officials were grooming Travis Perron to run against State Rep. Katie Edwards. He wrote, “Rumblings that some officials, activists and political consultants in and around the party (not including Chairman Mitch Caesar) are lining up political operative Travis Perron to challenge Edwards in a primary was so bizarre.”
Edwards angered some hard-left progressives by working to pass legislation with Republicans in Tallahassee. Krishnaiyer wrote, “While some progressives complain about Edwards record, the potential choice of Perron whose experience consists of managing campaigns often for losing Democratic candidates seemed to be more about settling petty political scores and enriching consultants than any thing else. The climate within Broward Democratic politics often revolves around relationships and political hackery not around competence or ideology.”
Krishnaiyer said it is possible Perron is being manipulated by party insiders. He wrote, “But my sense is Perron is probably not the guilty party himself, but is being pushed operatives who in classic Broward Democratic Party fashion would like to make money off a race and then “control” or have “access” to a state legislator should he be victorious.”
Facebook is filled with Cynthia Busch and Ken Evans accompaying Perron to events across Broward. In one picture, you can clearly see Evans, a Judy Stern ally, taking pictures of Perron as he addresses a Democrat meeting.