The company building a apartment complex using City owned land and funds contributed $5,000 to a shadowy political committee operated by a lobbyist with ties to controversial Hallandale Beach Mayor Keith London. According to Florida Division Of Elections records, CBV LLC of Hallandale Beach made a $5,000 contribution to the Good Government political committee on November 24, 2017. During the 2016 election, REDBROWARD exposed the political committee was operated by Evan Ross, a staunch ally of Mayor London and Vice Mayor Michele Lazarow.
Three years ago, CBV LLC submitted an “unsolicited proposal” to the Hallandale Beach Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) to build a seven unit apartment complex on Foster Road. In order to build the “Foster Square Park” project, CBV LLC asked for 4 parcels of City owned land in addition to a $600,000 construction loan.
On November 16, 2015 Keith London and Michele Lazarow voted to approve the project.
In June 2017, London and Lazarow attended the official groundbreaking ceremony for the Foster Square project.
According to City Of Hallandale Beach records, the lobbyist for CBV LLC (and its owners Ernesto Benedetti and Claudia Penas) is Hope Calhoun of Dunay, Miskel, Backman and Blattner LLP.
So why did CBV LLC make the $5,000 contribution to political committee run by Evan Ross?
Hallandale Beach records show Evan Ross is a registered lobbyist for AHC Holdings and Severn Trent Services. Was Ross lobbying on behalf of Benedetti or CBV LLC?
Evan Ross was not the only lobbyist to benefit from the Good Government political committee.
On January 23, 2018, Good Government paid Scott Cowan $3,000 for consulting. Hallandale Beach records indicate Cowan is the registered lobbyist for Gold Coast Companies.
SCOTT COWAN SERVED PRISON TIME FOR CAMPAIGN FUNDS MISUSE
In the 1990s, Scott Cowan was a powerful Broward County Commissioner. Then, in November 2000, Scott Cowan plead guilty to misuse of campaign funds. The plea came just before Cowan’s trial was set to begin. According to the Sun-Sentinel, Cowan admitted to making phony campaign expenditures.
Buddy Nevins reported Cowan paid nearly $8,000 to his daughters for campaign work, spent over $7,000 on furniture and accepted a $25,000 contribution after he had been re-elected. “Cowan explained he didn’t know he was violating election laws,” Nevins wrote.
Cowan was sentenced to six months in prison. While on work-release, a Broward Judge refused to allow Cowan to work as a lobbyist. Instead, Cowan worked at a local pizza restaurant.
DEVELOPER ADMITS PAC MONEY MEANT FOR KEITH LONDON
In a telephone interview with REDBROWARD, Claudia Penas denied knowing Evan Ross or Scott Cowan. Penas stated CBV LLC no longer uses Hope Calhoun as their lobbyist/lawyer.
When asked why they gave to Good Government, Penas said, “For Keith London’s campaign.” Penas became apprehensive when asked who requested the contribution. REDBROWARD asked if Keith London made the request.
“My attorney told us to make the contribution,” Penas said.
When asked for the name of her attorney, Penas said she did not feel comfortable discussing on the phone. She requested REDBROWARD come to her office before hanging up the phone.
According to Hallandale Beach records, on October 24, 2017 Ernesto Benedetti gave Keith London a $1,000 campaign contribution. On that same day, Force Improvement LLC, a company owned by Ernesto Benedetti and Claudia Penas, gave another $1,000 contribution to London.
Who asked Benedetti’s lawyer for more money? Why is a political committee allegedly supporting Mayor London paying lobbyist Scott Cowan?
Hallandale Beach voters deserve answers.