Add Betsy Benson to the long list of Broward County judicial candidates violating Florida election laws. The Benson campaign sent fundraising emails to public office buildings, a clear violation of Florida Statute 106.15(4) which states, “No person shall make and no person shall solicit or knowingly accept any political contribution in a building owned by a governmental entity.” The Benson solicitation was sent by a top Democrat electioneering firm from Washington, D.C., also a possible violation of Florida election law.
REDBROWARD obtained a copy of the Benson solicitation.
The May 3rd email claims to be sent “on behalf of Betsy Benson campaign.” The lengthy email is the standard “meet the candidate” stuff, however the bottom of the email includes a solicitation for money. The email states, “Send your donation to Betsy Benson Campaign 2802 NE 15th Terrace Wilton Manors, FL 33334.”
REDBROWARD confirmed the email was sent to the work email addresses of government employees.
Benson is not the first candidate to run afoul of this Florida Statute. Last December, REDBROWARD exposed the same violation by Broward County Circuit Court candidate Doreen Turner Inkeles. Her campaign emails were sent by local Democrat consultant Dan Lewis.
Like Benson, Inkeles’ email urging up to $1,000 contributions were sent to official email accounts of government employees. In this case, the employees just happened to be Broward County judges. The Broward County Courthouse is owned by a government entity.
Florida Statute 106.15(5) states, “Any person violating the provisions of this section commits a misdemeanor of the first degree.”
The Inkeles email was signed by 7 lawyers including former Coral Springs Mayor Scott J. Brook. REDBROWARD previously reported Brook was all smiles with Lea Krauss, another candidate for Broward County Circuit Court. Brook faced ethics charges for failing to report a free yacht trip provided by the corrupt developers, Shawn and Bruce Chait.
Brook is prominently featured in the Benson email as well. A picture of Benson and Brook is at the top of the email. He is listed on the email as a member of “The Committee to Elect Betsy Benson County Court Judge (Group 13). Other members of the committee include Hollywood Mayor Peter Bober, lobbyist Ron Book, and attorney David Singer.
Partisan Vendor Used To Send Email
The Benson email was sent by a NGP VAN, a Washington D.C based vendor. Last March, REDBROWARD revealed Benson paid the top Democrat electioneering firm in Washington, D.C. to market her campaign. Treasurer reports filed with the Broward Supervisor of Elections Office show Benson paid NGP VAN for “marketing.”
Rules for Florida judicial campaigns prohibit candidates from engaging in partisan political activities. On its website, NGP VAN proudly boasts, “Nearly every major Democratic campaign in America is powered by NGP VAN.” NGP Van offers Democrat candidates help in targeted email, fundraising, online contributions, contact management and social network integration. NGP Van offers links to the Democratic Municipal Officials (DMO) website, the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC) website and Emily’s List. Some of the products offered by NGP Van include new media and union organizing.
When asked why she hired NGP VAN, Benson told REDBROWARD she used NGP VAN to reach Broward voters. When asked if she felt using NGP VAN gave the appearance of polticial activity, Benson said, “I don’t think it is. It’s a resource that I am using.”
Benson did not know what NGP VAN gave her for her $960 payment. She said her political consultant, Michael Worley recommended NGP VAN.
REDBROWARD reached out to Benson for comment. We will update story if necessary.