The man behind several gaming industry-funded political committees orchestrated the October 2016 “illegal surveillance” press conference featuring Hallandale Beach Commissioners and their lawyers. On a Sunday afternoon, Evan Ross of Public Communicators Group issued a press release announcing the October 24, 2016 press conference. Ross wrote, “Hallandale Beach Commissioners Keith London and Michele Lazarow as well as commission candidate Anabelle Taub will discuss illegal activity involving tracking devices placed on their vehicles. All three have been subjected to unlawful surveillance.” Ross claimed the matter was tied to Vice Mayor Bill Julian’s “admissions…he solicited and agreed to accept possibly illegal benefits from the developer of The Diplomat Golf and Tennis Club.”
Ross announced documents and video evidence would be provided at the press conference. At no time did Evan Ross mention he operated political committees funded by Gulfstream Park Racetrack and Casino, a inter-city rival of The Diplomat Golf and Tennis Club.
Gambling Interests Funded Lazarow and Taub
REDBROWARD previously revealed the big contributions from gaming interests to Hallandale Beach Commissioners Michele Lazarow and Anabelle Taub. According to April 2016 campaign treasurer reports, Lazarow received $3,000 from the Village At Gulfstream Park, Gulfstream Park and Orchid Concessions. Taub received the same exact contributions in September 2016.
In October, Michele Lazarow and Anabelle Taub recorded large contributions from out of state gaming interests such as Xpress Bet, Oregon Racing, Amtote of Maryland, and Monarch Content Management.
Just days before the November election, Michele Lazarow and Anabelle Taub received maximum contributions of $1,000 from political committees created by Evan Ross.
On October 31, Lazarow received a $1,000 contribution from each of the following committees: Good Government, Public Service, and Progressive Principles.
On November 3, Anabelle Taub received $1,000 contributions from Good Government, Public Service, Progressive Principles.
Lazarow and Taub also received $1,000 each from the Ethics Matter political committee. This committee was funded by gambling interests.
Ross’ Major Role In Commissioners’ Campaigns
Despite his position with gaming industry funded political committees, Evan Ross appears to have played a significant role in Michele Lazarow and Anabelle Taub’s campaigns. In addition to promoting the press conference and the campaign contributions, Evan Ross admitted his close ties to Lazarow and Taub to the Sun-Sentinel editorial board before the November election.
In the November 5, 2016 “Dirtiest Election In Broward County“editorial, the Sun-Sentinel noted the gaming interests’ role in the Hallandale Beach elections. The editors said the Diplomat Hotel and Gulfstream had competing interests in the city. While the newspaper noted the large contributions to the Diplomat-backed committee, they never mentioned the political committees controlled by Evan Ross. The Sun-Sentinel wrote, “It’s unusual for track officials to contribute $75,000 to a political action committee focused on city politics. Ritvo said he gave to the committee — called Ethics Matter — after being told about corruption in the city.”
You may be tempted to say the Sun-Sentinel editorial writers did not know about Evan Ross. You would be wrong. Evan Ross is quoted in the same editorial.
“If the city wants to take that land from them, Gulfstream could potentially have damages that could exceed $60 million because you have the value of the barns, the cost to rebuild them, the cost of the land they would have to put them on, the jockey housing, then the disruption to their business,” says communications consultant Evan Ross, who’s had conversations with Gulfstream officials and is a friend of London and Lazarow.” (Emphasis Added)
Evan Ross told the Sun-Sentinel that Gulfstream wanted to work with Hallandale Beach. “[T]hey just don’t want to be strong-armed into giving it away or pressured into getting a deal done in an unreasonable amount of time,” Ross said.
Ross told the newspaper a deal could be reached within 12 months if Michele Lazarow and Anabelle Taub won the election. Ross’ comments to the Sun-Sentinel raise many several issues. Most importantly, was Evan Ross lobbying Hallandale Beach Commissioner Michele Lazarow and Anabelle Taub on behalf of Gulfstream Park?
According to the City of Hallandale Beach website, Evan Ross is not a registered lobbyist.
According to published reports, Evan Ross is no stranger to controversy over lobbying local government officials. A Probable Cause Memorandum issued by the Miami-Dade County Commission on Ethics and Public Trust, details Evan Ross’ role as a paid consultant for a garbage company. The complaint filed with the Commission alleged Ross acted as an “unregistered lobbyist” in the City of North Miami Beach. While he was cleared by the Commission, Ross was shown to be on the garbage company’s payroll. Stephanie Kienzle of VotersOpinion.com wrote, “Even more disturbing, although Evan Ross never registered as a lobbyist for any garbage company, he was secretly working as a ‘paid consultant’ for the current top-ranked bidder, Waste Management of Florida, Inc. How do I know this? Jason P. Neal, the company’s top in-house lobbyist, who is registered in North Miami Beach, told me so in a phone interview.”
It’s unclear if the Sun-Sentinel knew about the Commission’s investigation into Evan Ross.
What is clear is Evan Ross is celebrated Michele Lazarow’s win on election night. On his Facebook page, Evan Ross posted a picture of him holding Lazarow in his arms.
In her own October 21 Facebook post, Michele Lazarow wrote, “If Anabelle Taub and I are elected, the culture of corruption will quickly become a thing of the past.” Residents of Hallandale Beach who believed Lazarow deserve answers regarding her ties to Evan Ross, shadowy political committees and the gaming industry.