Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness continues to play a major role in Andrew Gillum’s bid to be the next Governor of Florida. On Tuesday, Holness’ daughter Damara sent an urgent email to supporters seeking volunteers for the election recount. The email came from a Dale Holness email account with his name emblazoned on the top.
Ms. Holness wrote, “We are in need of ballot observers” between Thursday, November 15th and Sunday, November 18th. Anyone wishing to volunteer is urged to email or call Holness for training information.
This is not the first time Dale Holness has teamed up with his daughter to influence a Broward election.
In July 2014, Judge Sandra Perlman opened the Broward County Commission District 2 Democrat primary to all voters when she disqualified write-in candidate Tyron Francois from the ballot. In sworn testimony, Francois admitted he did not live in District 2. He lived in District 9 which is represented by Dale Holness. Francois’ testimony confirmed what many Broward political insiders believed–that Dale Holness played a role in Francois’ write-in candidacy.
Broward superlawyer William Scherer, representing the plaintiff, asked if Francois knew Commissioner Holness. Francois said he voted for Holness in 2012 but did not really know him. Francois testified that no lawyer, politician, political consultant or anyone else assisted him.
Francois’ story began to fall apart after Scherer asked who lived with him at his Lauderdale Lakes home. After claiming he lived with his brother, Francois admitted his mother owned the house. Francois testified no one else lived at that address. Scherer asked if he knew Damara Holness used his address as legal residence.
Francois’ attorney Robert Vaughan strongly objected to the mention of Holness’ daughter. Francois denied any relationship with Damara Holness but admitted he knew her. He said he had met her a few times, but “not often.” Francois stated he never discussed his candidacy with Ms. Holness.
After the lunch recess, Francois was recalled to the witness stand to explain a picture from Damara Holness’ Twitter account. Scherer obtained a picture of Francois and Holness posted to Twitter on March 14, 2014. The picture showed Francois and Damara Holness staring into each other’s eyes in the front seat of an automobile. The picture was captioned, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” The caption included an animated emoticon of heart with an arrow through it.
Scherer asked Francois what the animated heart meant to him. The courtroom observers snickered when Francois said it could mean just about anything.
SNIPES’ LAWYER FOUGHT OPEN PRIMARY
Burnadette Norris Weeks, the attorney for Broward Supervisor of Elections (SOE) Brenda Snipes, tried desperately to delay any decision in the Francois matter. Norris-Weeks claimed it was too late to open the primary. She repeatedly told Judge Perlman that ballots were already printed and “coded.” Judge Perlman asked Norris-Weeks why Snipes did not testify at hearing. She claimed Snipes was out of town. Perlman asked why no SOE employee testified about the ballots. Norris-Weeks tried to blame Scherer for not calling any employee to testify.
Norris-Weeks stated Snipes’ office was working on with a skeleton crew. Perlman asked how many employees worked at the Supervisor of Elections office. While she did not know the exact number, Norris-Weeks believed the number to be less than 50 employees.
RED BROWARD reported Burnadette Norris-Weeks is a supporter of Dale Holness. In October 2012, she made a $500 contribution to Holness’ re-election campaign. A few weeks later, Holness was a guest at Norris-Weeks “holiday party.” RED BROWARD obtained pictures of the party Norris-Weeks posted on Facebook.
A month before the Francois hearing, Norris Weeks was photographed dancing with Dale Holness at an airport business convention in Denver. In June 2014, Holness and Burnadette Norris-Weeks attended the Airport Minority Advisory Council (AMAC) conference. Norris-Weeks attended the conference, not as Snipes’ attorney, but as a businesswoman with a big airport concessions contract awarded by the Broward County Commission.
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Airport Concessions Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (ACDBE) program is supposed to increase opportunities for minority and women-owned small businesses to operate as concessionaires in airports around the country. Locally, Broward County Office of Economic and Small Business Development (OESBD) “works to certify local firms as ACDBEs and to establish annual ACDBE participation goals for the County’s airport projects.” In order to qualify, a business must be “51% owned, controlled and managed by socially and economically disadvantaged U.S. citizen or legal resident who belongs to one or more of the following categories: African-American, Asian-Pacific, Hispanic, Native, Sub-continent Asian, or female.” An individual owner’s Personal Net Worth (PNW) must not exceed $1.32 million excluding personal residence.
In order to retain its food and concession contracts at Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport, The Paradies Shops needed to comply with the ACDBE guidelines. In 2006, Paradies formed Paradies-Broward LLC. According to State of Florida corporate records, Paradies-Broward LLC was comprised of four members: The Paradies Shops, JD Ruffin Associates Inc., Maria Soldani Consulting LLC and Right Consulting LLC. Burnadette Norris-Weeks is listed as a member of Paradies-Broward LLC.
In December 2013, Broward Commissioners approved the latest agreement with Paradies-Broward LLC. Records show Right Consulting LLC owns a 9% share of the Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport concession business.
Nothing in Norris-Weeks’ resume shows past experience in airport concessions. Following law school, she worked for a Tallahassee law firm and the Florida House of Representatives. After a year with the Florida Attorney General’s office, Norris-Weeks joined a Fort Lauderdale insurance company. In 1999, she opened her own legal practice in Fort Lauderdale. Right Consulting LLC was created in 2004.
Norris-Weeks and Holness were listed on the official roster of AMAC conference attendees. RED BROWARD obtained photographs of Norris-Weeks and Holness at the June 6-10 conference. Several photographs show Norris-Weeks and Holness smiling and dancing together. Another shows them wearing novelty Sunny.org sunglasses. Sunny.org is the Fort Lauderdale Tourism Council.
Last week, REDBROWARD reported on Burnadette Norris Weeks’ absence from media coverage of the Broward elections recount. Just days before the election, Norris Weeks posted a picture of Dale Holness wearing a Gillum t-shirt on Facebook. Norris Weeks wrote “NOBODY is working harder for Gillum in Broward County than…Dale VC Holness.”
Since September, REDBROWARD documented how Dale Holness’ “hard work” caused problems from the Gillum campaign.
In September, Holness hosted a Gillum fundraiser at a building the County Commission was asked to purchase as the new home of Brenda Snipes’ election office. Then, a political committee tied to Dale Holness got into hot water over a pro-Andrew Gillum endorsement card. The A Better Florida For All card included four judicial candidates alongside partisan candidates. The inclusion violates judicial campaign ethics. A Broward Judge would rule the card could not be handed out to voters.
Just before the November election, Project Veritas Action posted undercover video of an Andrew Gillum campaign staffer calling Florida a “cracker state.” The employee, Omar Smith, is the man behind the A Better Florida For All committee. And the undercover video was recorded at Dale Holness’ real estate office in Plantation.
The Gillum campaign cut all ties to Omar Smith.
A copy of the A Better Florida For All card is clearly visible in pictures posted on social media of Dale Holness and Damara Holness at his offices.
Should Brenda Snipes let Team Holness into the recount?
Here’s the full email sent by Holness.
There is an election recount in Florida for numerous Democratic candidates including Mayor Andrew Gillum, the Democratic nominee for Governor of Florida. We are in need of ballot observers who can volunteer from Thursday, November 15th, 2018 until Sunday, November 18th, 2018 at the Broward Supervisor of Elections office located in the back of Lauderhill Mall.
If you are interested, email Damara Holness at Damara.Holness@gmail.com with your First Name, Last Name, Email Address, Zip Code and Date of Birth, or call directly at (954) xxx-xxxx. You will then receive an email with an election observer training webinar and you can select the shifts you are able to volunteer.
Thank you in advance. Let’s Bring it Home!