On November 1, 2016 WPLG Local 10 investigative reporter Bob Norman dropped another political bombshell on the City Of Hallandale Beach. The story, “Secret Audio Implicates Hallandale Beach City Attorney In Alleged Improper Conduct,” detailed a conversation between then-Vice Mayor Bill Julian and City Attorney V. Lynn Whitfield. The conversation surrounded a March 2016 robo-call attacking Julian. A recording left by Julian related to the robo-call was the subject of Bob Norman story in August 2016.
In his November 2016 story, Bob Norman said he, “obtained an audiotape of an inadvertently recorded conversation [Whitfield] had with Bill Julian, in which she clearly provided Julian campaign advice and guidance.” Norman stated Whitfield’s actions could be a violation of the law which prohibits public officials from “using their authority to interfere with elections in their own cities.”
On the audiotape, Whitfield allegedly told Julian, “I can’t advise you on personal stuff and definitely I can’t advise you on election stuff, ok?” But later in the three minute recording, Whitfield said, “When they do stuff to you, my advice, personally, is to plan….Plan out, list out, ‘this is how they are going to come after me.'”
According to Bob Norman, Commissioner Keith London was “livid” after listening to the audiotape. He said Whitfield “doesn’t know the basics of the city charter that says you work for the City. It doesn’t say you work for Bill Julian.”
London said, “She gave personal and campaign advice to Bill Julian, she’s got to go.”
Four weeks later, Keith London called for an “emergency” meeting to fire Whitfield. According to a WPLG story, London used the audiotape as a cause to fire her. Bob Norman said Keith London “is now the City’s de facto leader.”
Whitfield was fired.
Once again, an outraged Commissioner Keith London portrayed himself to the local media as the corruption fighter at Hallandale Beach City Hall.
However, sworn testimony given to the Broward State Attorney’s Office shows Commissioners Keith London and Michele Lazarow knew about Whitfield’s action for eight months and never said anything.
LOBBYIST EVAN ROSS PLAYED WHITFIELD TAPE FOR KEITH LONDON
As REDBROWARD reported, lobbyist Evan Ross, a close ally of Hallandale Beach Mayor Keith London, gave sworn testimony to the Broward State Attorney (SAO) in March 2017. The Broward SAO was investigating whether Bill Julian accepted bribes as alleged in an August 2016 report by Bob Norman. A recording of Julian was provided to Norman by Ross after Keith London gave him the “green light.” Even though the recording was made in March 2016, Keith London testified they kept the tape under wraps until August 2016 for “politically expedient”reasons. London was the campaign manger for Julian’s opponent in the November 2016 election.
In his sworn testimony, Evan Ross stated Bill Julian left ten recordings on his system. The night the robo-call went out, Ross noticed a voicemail in “the system.” When he listened to the call, Ross “quickly identified it was Bill Julian’s voice talking to someone.” The following day, Ross claimed he found more voicemails. He testified there were ten recordings, including the Whitfield tape.
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.
Ross said 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 the recordings contained, “conversations with people who I believe to be city employees, some of them I could identify potentially.”
Ross told Assistant State Attorney David Schulson he still had all ten recordings. Schulson asked if he gave all ten to Bob Norman.
Ross said, “At a later time, I gave [Bob Norman] the remainder of them, one which he used in a story, which was between Vice Mayor Julian and the city attorney.”
Ross described the contents of that recording in political terms. He said, “The city attorney was on that tape giving him political advice and saying less than flattering things about some of the other commissioners, most notably, Commissioner London.
ANOTHER POLITICAL DIRTY TRICK?
Keith London has a well documented adversarial relationship with Lynn Whitfield. In February 2015, a special counsel was hired to investigate Whitfield’s allegations of racial discrimination against Keith London.
In February 2016, London was cleared of charges of discrimination and creating a hostile work environment. According to the Sun-Sentinel, “While investigators cleared London, they took him to task for rubbing people the wrong way. They quoted his critics, who accused him of being aggressive, intimidating and rude.”
The meeting of two sitting Hallandale Beach Commissioners at the home of a lobbyist occurred on or about March 3, 2016. Just one month after London had been cleared.
But they took no action when they heard the Hallandale Beach Vice Mayor talk about a potential crime.
They took no action when they heard the city attorney possibly commit a violation of law.
They waited. They waited for the election to be closer. As Keith London testified, he did not want the news to get “buried.”
Did London and Lazarow ever document the March 2016 meeting with lobbyist Evan Ross?
Did London ever document his numerous conversations with Ross about the release of the Julian tape?
Did London and Lazarow document discussions with Ross about the Whitfield tape?
Did London and Lazarow document their discussions about Lynn Whitfield? The Florida Sunshine Law covers discussions between elected officials about matters that may come before them for a vote.
Didn’t Keith London and Michele Lazarow vote to fire Lynn Whitfield in November 2016?
More to come…