Broward County Commissioner Steve Geller
Broward County Commissioner Steve Geller

“Public Service,” a shadowy political committee funded by local and national gaming companies, did not limit its influence to the recent Hallandale Beach city commission races. Last week, REDBROWARD exposed the role Public Service and its founder, Evan Ross played in the campaigns of Hallandale Beach Commissioners Michele Lazarow and Anabelle Taub. In addition to large campaign contributions, Evan Ross helped organize a press conference where lawyers for Lazarow and Taub alleged the women were the victims of private investigators hired by their political opponents. Campaign records from the Broward Supervisor of Elections Office (SOE) show Ross’ Public Service committee and its contributors were big backers of County Commissioner Steve Geller.

REDBROWARD reported Michele Lazarow and Anabelle Taub received $1,000 each from political committees operated by Evan Ross. These committees are Public Service, Good Government and Progressive Principles. On August 25, 2016, Steve Geller received a $1,000 contribution from Public Service. Lazarow, Taub, and Geller were the only candidates backed by Public Service during the 2016 election.

Since 2014, a variety of business in the gaming industry have funded Public Service. These companies include Pacific Racing Association, the Maryland Jockey Club, Orchid Concessions, the Village at Gulfstream Park, and Gulfstream Park. According to Hallandale Beach campaign reports, Michele Lazarow received $3,000 from the same Gulfstream Park entities: Village At Gulfstream Park, Gulfstream Park and Orchid Concessions. Anabelle Taub received the same exact contributions.

GREENSPOON ROLLS DICE ON LOCAL CANDIDATES

One of Public Service’s biggest backers appears to be the Greenspoon Marder law firm. The law firm itself gave Public Service a $10,000 contribution. Gerald Greenspoon is the chairperson of three political committees which backed Public Service. GM Citizens For A Smarter Florida gave $5,500, GM Citizens For A Better Florida Florida gave $2,000 and GM Trial Lawyers For A Better And Smarter Florida gave $1,000 to Evan Ross’ committee.

The largest contribution game from the Floridians For A Stronger Tommorrow political committee.  The group, which uses the Greenspoon Marder downtown Fort Lauderdale offices as its address, gave $12,000 to Public Service. According to records from the Florida Division of Elections, the chairperson of Floridians For A Stronger Tomorrow is Steve Geller.

In his campaign for the Broward County Commission, Steve Geller received contributions from the same Greenspoon Marder committees. Geller received $1,000 from each group as well as $500 from Greenspoon Marder.

GELLER HUGE PROPONENT OF EXPANDED GAMBLING

While it was not mentioned in his commission race, Steve Geller has long been a proponent of expanded gambling in Florida. The firm created a vanity website for its gaming work: GellerGamingLaw.com. The site boasts of Geller presenting lectures at gaming conferences sponsored by Greenspoon Marder. On the firm’s main website, the firm still lists Geller as the head of their gaming section. Greenspoon Marder states, “Our gaming team is headed by former Florida Senate Minority Leader Steve Geller, who has served as President of the National Council of Legislators from Gaming States (NCLGS) and chair of the legislative committee overseeing gambling. Geller is a frequent speaker across the country on gambling issues, including lottery, pari-mutuels, Internet gambling, Indian gaming enterprises, bingo and charitable gambling, gambling cruises to nowhere, and other gambling-related topics.”

DID ANYBODY ASK STEVE GELLER ABOUT GAMBLING?

One might think the South Florida Sun-Sentinel might have examined Steve Geller’s ties to gambling and its potential impact on Broward County. Sun-Sentinel editors were present when the former owners of the Florida Panthers were hoping to build a casino at the county-owned BB&T Center in Sunrise. Surely, the newspaper of record in Broward county is familiar with the issues surrounding the pact with the Seminole Indians which could have a major impact on the Hard Rock Casino in Hollywood, and other gambling facilities in Coconut Creek, Hallandale Beach and Pompano Beach.

But the Sun-Sentinel never mentioned gambling in its two endorsements of Steve Geller.  The editors blathered about Geller’s experience in Tallahassee and his favorable views on climate change. Not a peep about casinos and gambling. No mention of Geller’s operation of a political committee which funded other shadowy political committees.

Yet, this does not explain Geller’s and the political committees’ interest in the City of Hallandale Beach elections. Geller represents District 5 on the County Commission. Hallandale Beach is not in his district.

More to come…