Campaign records show the company owned by Hallandale Beach Mayor Keith London received thousands of dollars in consulting fees from political action committees funded by Miami-Dade “mega developers.” In 2015, developer Sandor Sher spent $70 million buying a large parcel of land in North Miami Beach. The Miami New Times reported Sher planned “to build high-end retail shops, to renovate and expand an art deco hotel, and to demolish several oceanfront properties…all to make way for a 70-unit luxury condo tower, where properties will go for millions each.”
Sher’s plan to demolish historic buildings lead one preservationist to call the plan destruction of North Beach. “This is almost annihilation and total replacement,” Daniel Ciraldo, a preservationist with the Miami Design Preservation League, told The Miami Herald. “It’s like, ‘Bam, it’s done.’ It’s symptomatic of what’s going on in our city right now.”
But Sher had an even bigger problem. Laws called for Miami Beach voters to approve his massive project. His solution? Spend more money.
According to the Miami New Times, Sher “sunk $300,000 into the campaign, hiring one ex-mayor and [Mayor Phillip Levine’s] powerful campaign manager, blanketing doors and storefronts with slick ads and handbills, and wrangling the backing of the Beach’s top elected officials.”
The Miami Herald reported that Sher created the “A Better North Beach” political committee to push his massive development project.
In October 2015, campaign records show A Better North Beach paid Keith London, Inc. $10,000 for consulting services. State corporation records show Keith S. London is the president of Keith London Inc. According to State and local property records, this business is located at the home owned by Mayor Keith London.
Two years later, another political committee pushing development in Miami-Dade hired Keith London, Inc.
Campaign records for the “Building A Stronger Beach” paid Keith London, Inc twice in November 2017.
On November 3, 2017, Keith London, Inc. received a $456 payment for “parking, supplies and shipping.” One the same date, Keith London, Inc. received a $7,500 payment for “campaign consulting.”
The “Vote North Beach” Facebook page is filled with pictures of Hallandale Beach Mayor Keith London. While wearing a “Vote Yes On #82” shirt and hat, Hallandale Beach Mayor Keith London posed with voters and politicians.
The page even features well wishes from Mayor London’s wife as well as Vice Mayor Michele Lazarow wearing campaign shirts.
HALLANDALE BEACH: HAVEN FOR DEVELOPERS?
Keith London became mayor after the January 2018 arrest of then-Mayor Joy Cooper. An FBI sting caught Cooper “to have solicited and accepted $5,000 in political campaign contributions from them that were funneled to her” by a lawyer representing an alleged developer. Cooper was removed from office by Governor Rick Scott. Last week, Cooper pleaded not guilty to the corruption charges.
According to April 2016 campaign treasurer reports, Vice Mayor Michele Lazarow received $3,000 from the Village At Gulfstream Park, Gulfstream Park and Orchid Concessions. In October 2016 , Michele Lazarow 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 received maximum contributions of $1,000 from political committees created by lobbyist Evan Ross.
On October 31, Lazarow received a $1,000 contribution from each of the following committees: Good Government, Public Service, and Progressive Principles.
Lazarow also received $1,000 each from the Ethics Matter political committee. This committee was funded by gambling interests.
In a telephone interview with REDBROWARD, Claudia Penas of CBV LLC said her company gave $5,000 to the “Good Government” Committee to help London.
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.
Records show Evan Ross’ committee paid disgraced former Broward County Commissioner Scott Cowan $3,000 for consulting. Hallandale Beach records indicate Cowan is the registered lobbyist for Gold Coast Companies. One Hallandale Beach insider tells REDBROWARD that Cowan is a regular fixture at City Hall.
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.
For years, Keith London told supporters he wanted to clean up the corruption at Hallandale Beach City Hall. He criticized Mayor Joy Cooper for her cozy relationship with developers and their lobbyists like Judy Stern.
Now, even some longtime supporters of London have begun to question his behavior and motives.
Last week, David Smith of the Hallandale Beach Blog wrote, “[M]any longtime Hallandale Beach civic activists, friends of mine and past supporters of new Hallandale Beach Mayor Keith London and Comm. Michele Lazarow are DISMAYED and EMBARRASSED about what has been taking place at HB City Hall these days with them in the majority, where personal and political expediency seem to keep trumping common sense and rational public idiscourse regarding many different issues, large and small, including eliminating one of the city’s few common sense procedures.”
Why did Miami-Dade developers hire Keith London to push a pro-developer ballot measure? Does Keith London work for any other Miami-Dade developers? Was Vice Mayor Michele Lazarow compensated for her support of the North Beach ballot measure? Do these same developers have projects in Hallandale Beach?
Hallandale Beach voters deserve answers.