Campaign records show Hallandale Beach Mayor Keith London is not the only candidate using contributions from developers and gambling companies to pay a disgraced former Broward County Commissioner. Yesterday, REDBROWARD reported local developers and Gulfstream Racing and Casino made large contributions to the 27th State political committee. Records show Keith London formed the committee in July. Those same records show London’s political committee made payments to Hallandale Beach lobbyist Scott Cowan.
In November 2000, then-Broward County Commissioner 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. At the time, the Sun-Sentinel 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,” reporter Buddy 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.
As REDBROWARD previously reported, Scott Cowan admitted to being “friends” with London and his close ally Evan Ross, another Hallandale Beach lobbyist. Evan Ross’ political committee, Good Government, paid Scott Cowan $3,000 for consulting fees in January 2018.
Hallandale Beach records show Scott Cowan is the registered lobbyist for Gold Coast Companies of Davie. Hallandale Beach election records show Keith London’s mayoral campaign received $1,000 from Gold Coast Advertising on July 31, 2018. On that same day, London received another $1,000 from Gold Coast Companies. Both contributions use the same Davie post office box as their address.
City records show Keith London’s mayoral campaign paid Scott Cowan for consultation. Cowan received $2,500 in August 2018 and $1,250 in September 2018.
DALLY & BUTLER PAYING SCOTT COWAN BIG BUCKS
Election records show Keith London is not the only Hallandale Beach Official paying Scott Cowan for his consulting services. Like London, Commissioner Rich Dally and Commissioner Michael Butler are running to keep their seats on the Hallandale Beach Commission. Campaign records show Dally and Butler have paid Cowan $5,000 each for consulting. To help pay for Scott Cowan, both Commissioners took campaign contributions from developers and local gambling establishments.
Dally and Butler received $2,000 each from entities tied to Gulfstream Racing and Casino. As REDBROWARD reported, Gulfstream funded political committees operated by Keith London and Evan Ross.
In July 2018 sworn testimony to the Broward State Attorney’s Office Keith London admitted to introducing Evan Ross to Gulfstream Park Casino executives.
In his sworn testimony, Evan Ross Ross revealed discussions with Michael Fucheck and Tim Ritvo, the COO of The Stronach Group about funding his political committee. Ross said he helped form the Ethics Matter political committee which ended up “being involved exclusively was [sic] issues surrounding Hallandale Beach.”
Ross said, “Gulfstream funded that PAC almost exclusively.”
Asked why Gulfstream funded the Ethics Matter PAC, Ross said, “Gulfstream felt very strongly that they were not being treated fairly by the City Of Hallandale Beach, that they were being almost extorted by the city and they wanted to see a change in the way that the city was run.” Ross said Gulfstream contributed $75,000 to his political committee.
During the 2016 election, Gulfstream and Evan Ross’ political committees supported Keith London’s strongest political ally–Vice Mayor Michele Lazarow.
According to April 2016 campaign treasurer reports, Lazarow received $3,000 from the Village At Gulfstream Park, Gulfstream Park and Orchid Concessions. Records show former London-ally Anabelle Taub received the same exact contributions in September 2016.
In the days leading up to the November 2016 election, Michele Lazarow received maximum contributions of $1,000 from political committees created by 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.
In his sworn testimony, Evan Ross said Keith London was Anabelle Taub’s campaign manager.
Now, London’s newest allies on the Hallandale Beach City Commission are receiving similar backing.
Records show Rich Dally received large campaign contributions from developers who gave big bucks to Keith London and his political committee. In May 2018, Dally received $1,000 from Integra Solutions. Yesterday, REDBROWARD revealed the men behind Integra Solutions gave $10,000 to Keith London’s political committee. The contribution came from Miami-based Hallandale Land Ventures LLLP. Records show developers Paulo Melo, Victor Ballestas and Nelson Stabile are the men behind Hallandale Land Ventures LLLP as well as Integra Solutions.
According to published reports, the men are building Hallandale ArtSquare. “The 8-acre mixed-use project, on Federal Highway three blocks north of Hallandale Beach Boulevard, will feature six buildings, 358 rental apartments, a fitness center and resort-style pool. The 12,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space will be ideal for younger residents moving to the area and looking for a vibrant lifestyle destination, said Victor Ballestas, principal with developer Integra Investments.”
Earlier this month, Rich Dally received $2,000 from companies owned by developers Ernesto Benedetti and Maria Claudia Penas. In March 2018, REDBROWARD reported Benedetti and Penas helped London through a $5,000 contribution to Ross’ Good Government political committee on November 24, 2017.
In a telephone interview with REDBROWARD, Maria Claudia Penas denied knowing Evan Ross. 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.
In October 2017, Hallandale Beach election records show Ernesto Benedetti gave Keith London a $1,000 campaign contribution. On that same day, Force Improvement LLC, another company owned by Ernesto Benedetti and Claudia Penas, gave another $1,000 contribution to London.
A year later, Benedetti and Penas are supporting London’s allies.
Do developers, casino owners and lobbyist run things in Hallandale Beach? Why are they so eager to help Keith London, Michele Lazarow, Rich Dally, Michael Butler and Scott Cowan?
Hallandale Beach voters deserve answers, right?