Majors players in the legal drama surrounding the ongoing Broward Health investigation have funded the re-election campaign of Judge Nina Weatherly Di Pietro. Appointed last year by Governor Rick Scott, Nina Weatherly Di Pietro is married to former Broward Chairman David Di Pietro. In March, Governor Scott removed David Di Pietro from his position after the Chief Inspector General claimed he was interfering in the Broward Health investigation.
It should come as no surprise that Di Pietro is receiving campaign contributions from her husband. Broward elections records show Di Pietro has received $2,000 from her husband and his law firm.
What is surprising is the amount of money Nina Di Pietro received from Zimmerman Advertising. The Fort Lauderdale firm’s contract negotiations with Broward Health are at the center of the State investigation.
ZIMMERMAN FUNDRAISER FOR DI PIETRO
In February, published reports exposed a lavish fundraiser at Zimmerman’s new offices in Fort Lauderdale. According to The Florida Bulldog, the event was held just seven weeks after Broward Health gave Zimmerman a $2.1 million dollar contract, the first part of the proposed $71 million dollar deal. “Broward County Court Judge Nina Di Pietro…raised almost $22,000, nearly all of it from lawyers, auto dealers and other non-healthcare companies, campaign records say.”
David Di Pietro told the Florida Bulldog that Zimmerman’s support of his wife played no role in the contract. “I don’t run Nina’s campaign. I don’t directly solicit money. I haven’t since she started her campaign,” Di Pietro said. “We had horrible advertising…a football player. I want a marketing strategy so the public knows about the healthcare our doctors and staff provide. Even if it’s not Zimmerman we need a marketing plan.”
Chip La Marca and another ousted Broward Health Commissioner, Darryl Wright, attended Nina Di Pietro’s fundraiser.
Questions have been raised about pressure applied by former Zimmerman employee (and Broward County Commissioner) Chip LaMarca on Broward Health employees to sign off on the huge $71 million dollar deal.
LaMarca met the late Dr. Nabil El Sanadi and Doris Peek, a Broward Health senior vice president to discuss the Zimmerman Advertising contract. According to a report, Peek claims LaMarca threatened El Sanadi. Peek stated the purpose of the meeting “was to discuss Zimmerman’s desire to epand its contract with the District and Mr. LaMarca carried the conversation.”
This information was contained in a report submitted by the Berger Singerman law firm. Before he was removed by the Governor, David Di Pietro hired Berger Singerman to run its own investigation of Broward Health. The head of the firm is Mitchell Berger, a prominent Democrat Party fundraiser.
Last week, REDBROWARD exposed the close ties between Chip La Marca and Mitchell Berger.
In June, LaMarca co-hosted a political fundraiser with Mitch Berger at his Berger Singerman firm for Fort Lauderdale Commission candidate Ben Sorenson. Chip LaMarca was the second name listed on the Sorenson invitation.
In March, the Broward Health board fired Berger Singerman. Florida Chief Inspector General Melinda Miguel accused Berger Singerman of interfering with her review and recommended the suspensions of David Di Pietro, the former chairman, and Commissioner Darryl Wright. Gov. Scott suspended both men for “malfeasance” within hours of that recommendation on March 18.
Earlier this month, Broward Health debated whether to pay $200,000 in legal fees to Berger Singerman. According to POLITICO, new chairman Rocky Rodriguez said it wasn’t the “right time” to discuss the bill, and said he needed to get some answers “here and there” regarding the fees.
ZIMMERMAN AND DI PIETRO “DREAM TEAM” GIVE TO JUDGE NINA
In September 2015, months before he was hired by Broward Health, Mitchell Berger gave a $500 contribution to Republican appointee Nina Di Pietro. Did Berger Singerman host a fundraiser for Judge Nina? That’s unclear, but it does raise more questions about the relationship between Berger and David Di Pietro, a staunch of Donald Trump.
After being removed from his post, David Di Pietro sued Governor Rick Scott in Broward County Court. Members of Di Pietro’s legal “dream team” also supported Judge Nina.
In June 2015, attorney Bruce Green gave $500 to Judge Nina. Brian Silber gave $1000 to her campaign. Jay Spechler has given Judge Nina $2000 through his office. His wife, Mindy Shrago, the controversial director of the Young At Art children’s museum also gave $2,000 to Judge Nina.
Like Berger Singerman, all three lawyers want Broward taxpayers to pay their hefty legal fees for representing David Di Pietro.