In August 2016, WPLG Local 10 investigative reporter Bob Norman broadcast a political bombshell. Norman reported Hallandale Beach Commissioner Bill Julian made a recording admitting to take bribes from a local developer. According the Channel 10 story, Bill Julian called a number associated with a robo-call attacking him.
“On one of Julian’s calls, he apparently failed to hang up his phone and inadvertently left behind an audio recording of a private conversation. Local 10 News obtained a copy of the recording, which appears to contain damning admissions from Julian. It begins with Julian explaining his vote against the park.”
Hallandale Beach Commissioner Keith London, a staunch foe of Julian, was outraged. He called for an immediate investigation by the Broward State Attoney’s Office. London told Bob Norman, “It certainly sounds like a bribe. Bill Julian, on your audio recording, certainly sounds to me like he’s admitting taking a bribe for two things — 300 campaign workers and a van.”
Just one problem. London learned about the Julian recording five months earlier. And even though he believed a crime may have been committed, Keith London never contacted law enforcement.
LONDON GIVES SWORN TESTIMONY TO BROWARD STATE ATTORNEY
In October 2017, Bill Julian was cleared by the Broward State Attorney’s Office. The Sun-Sentinel reported, “‘There is absolutely no evidence that Commissioner Julian ever received any improper payment or benefit of any kind’ from the developer or his attorney, Assistant State Attorney David Schulson says in a memo dated Oct. 23.” But the damage had been done. Bill Julian lost his seat in the November 2016 to political newcomer Anabelle Taub.
On February 20, 2017, Commissioner Keith London, accompanied by his attorney David Di Pietro, spoke under oath with Assistant State Attorney David Schulson. In his sworn testimony, London states he made a “politically expedient” decision to keep the Bill Julian recording a secret until after the August 2016 primaries.
Keith London admitted learning of the recording from lobbyist Evan Ross shortly after the robo-call was made on March 3, 2016. When asked why he did not take action in March 2016 London said, “Because it would have gotten buried and instead it was a news conference and Bob Norman made a great story. After Bob Norman, now it’s front page news.” London stated Evan Ross gave the recording to Bob Norman.
Schulson asked if there was a “strategic meeting with Evan Ross, as to when he should turn it over to Bob Norman?” London replied, “Correct.” London said he gave Ross the “green light” to release recording to Norman after the August 2016 primary.
When asked why they chose Norman, London testified, “Bob loves Hallandale.”
London stated they never considered any other reporter.
EVAN ROSS GIVES SWORN STATEMENT TO BROWARD STATE ATTORNEY
On March 3, 2017, lobbyist Evan Ross testified under oath to Assistant State Attorney David Schulson. Ross testified for more than two hours to details surrounding his relationship with Hallandale Beach Commissioners Keith London and Michele Lazarow, his political committees funded by Gulfstream Park, his robo-call targeting former Commissioner Bill Julian and the recordings of Julian as well as the decision to release the recordings to WPLG reporter Bob Norman. As REDBROWARD previously reported, numerous PACs operated by Evan Ross have supported Hallandale Beach Commissioners London, Lazarow and Anabelle Taub.
When asked who came up with idea to attack Bill Julian with the robo-call, Evan Ross testified, ” I had the discussion–I know I had it with Commissioner London. I believe I may have shared it with Commissioner Lazarow….But it was primarily with Commissioner London.” Ross stated he wrote the script for the call and shared it with Commissioner London.
The night the robo-call went out, Ross noticed there was a voicemail in “the system.” When he listened to the call, he “quickly identified it was Bill Julian’s voice talking to someone.” The following day, Ross claimed he found more voicemails. He testified he noticed the calls came from a “particular phone number that I saw repeatedly.”
Evan Ross stated he told Commissioner Keith London about the Julian recordings the same day he discovered them.
Ross testified he “advised Commissioner London and Commissioner Lazarow…to come to my home and told them that I felt it was of great importance.” Both Commissioners came to Ross’ house. Once there, he played ten recordings of Bill Julian.
Even though Ross says they were in “utter shock,” the three agreed not to do anything with the recordings. Ross stated, “[W]e all agreed that we should not make a decision on what to do with it sight unseen. And that we should take a little time.”
Ross said, “Discussion ensued primarily with Commissioner London and I, where I came up with the idea to ultimately turn the tape over to Bob Norman.” He said they would wait until late July or early August before giving recording to Norman.
Assistant State Attorney Schulson asked, “So you, on your own and through your discussions with Commissioner London, made a strategic political decision to hold onto this recorded conversation…until after qualifying in June of 2016?”
Ross tried to claim London left the ultimate decision to release up to him. Schulson asked if would surprise Ross if Commissioner London testified under oath that London was the one who gave the “green light” to release tape to Bob Norman? Ross simply said, “Oh, we certainly discussed it.”
When asked if he would have released it if Keith London instructed him not to, Ross said, “I certainly would have listened.”
POLITICAL DIRTY TRICK?
Even both claim they suspected a crime had been committed, Keith London and Evan Ross admitted they made a political decision to withhold the Julian recordings. They admitted they wanted to make sure the story affected the November 2016 election. Under oath, Evan Ross said Keith London was the unpaid campaign manager of Bill Julian’s opponent. More to come…