Last August, the board members of the Broward Republican Executive Committee (BREC) issued endorsements of candidates in the primary election. Unlike the Broward Democrats, BREC leaders decided to endorse candidates in the non-partisan races for Broward judge. The BREC board includes Chairman George Moraitis, Vice Chair Celeste Ellich, Secretary Rupert Tarsey, Treasurer Kevin Moot, State Committee Woman Michele Merrell and State Committeeman Richard DeNapoli.
In the three-person race for Broward County Court Judge Group 9, the BREC Board endorsed Tanner Channing Demmery over Leonore Greller and Corey Amanda Cawthon. In the November runoff, the BREC Board once again endorsed Demmery over Cawthon.
In October, Javier Manjarres of the Shark Tank wondered why the BREC leadership decided to endorse Demmery, a Democrat public defender over Corey Cawthon, a registered Republican.
Manjarres wrote, “This is disgraceful for Republicans, but is an expected move from the embattled misfit group of Republicans who supposedly represent all Broward Republicans.”
In a statement to Manjarres, Chairman George Moraitis, “affirmed the decision, stating that the decision was made to endorse after ‘the attorneys’ recommended it. Moraitis did not say who the attorneys were.”
The only attorneys on the BREC Board are Moraitis, Moot and DeNapoli.
DEFENSIVE DEMMERY DENIES “PAY FOR PLAY”
REDBROWARD caught up with Tanner Demmery last month at the early voting location in Coral Springs.
As REDBROWARD reported, Tanner Demmery faced questions over his endorsement by the A Better Florida For All political committee. The committee strongly supported Democrat gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum. With close ties to controversial Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness, the committee also endorsed local African-American candidates for judge. Local insiders were shocked to find Demmery listed on the “Diversity” slate for judges.
Buddy Nevins at Broward Beat reported the four non-partisan judicial candidates appearing on the A Better Florida For All card were Haccord James Curry, Stefanie Camille Moon, Jackie Powell and Tanner Channing Demmery.
“Partisan appeals judicial candidates’ ads are forbidden by the Florida Supreme Court Code of Judicial Conduct. Joint advertising by judicial candidates is also prohibited,” Nevins wrote.
When REDBROWARD caught up with him at the Northwest Regional Library in Coral Springs, Demmery cried “harassment” when asked about his appearance on the partisan card from the A Better Florida For All political committee. Demmery even asked a woman to call the police.
Demmery said, “I don’t pay anyone to be on endorsement cards.” When asked about the BREC endorsement, Demmery’s answers were not as clear cut. He claimed he was on the card because “people support me.”
When asked if he met with Rupert Tarsey, Demmery said, “I don’t even know who Rupert Tarsey is.”
When asked about his contact with Richard DeNapoli, Demmery denied meeting with anyone but would not answer when asked if he talked to him or any other BREC leader. “I never paid to be on any of these cards,” Demmery said.
Demmery was badly beaten by Corey Cawthon.
2016 FIGHT OVER ENDORSEMENT LEADS TO LACK OF PALM CARDS
The controversy over the Demmery pick is not the first time endorsement drama enveloped the BREC Board. In 2016, BREC failed to include Judge Nina DiPietro on its list of endorsements. Her husband, David DiPietro was former legal counsel for BREC.
After some prominent Republicans complained about DiPietro’s exclusion, BREC was forced to print new endorsement cards. Buddy Nevins of Browardbeat.com “was also told that the board of directors of the local GOP were split over whether to redo the cards, which will be distributed to select voters. A number of directors opposed changing the list to include Judge Di Pietro.”
What was the real story behind the DiPietro mess?
According to former BREC Chairman Robert Sutton, one particular BREC Board member did not want Judge Nina DiPietro the palm card.
“Richard DeNapoli said he did not want Nina DiPietro to get the BREC endorsement,” Sutton told REDBROWARD.
In an October 2016 e-mail to REDBROWARD, DeNapoli included the endorsement card without DiPietro. He said it was available on the party Facebook page. DeNapoli wrote, “This was the finalized guide as decided by the Board and amendments voted upon by the BREC members at the September meeting.”
Sutton said party leaders in Tallahassee were extremely angry over the slight and the cards were reprinted.
Did DeNapoli let his dislike of David DiPietro interfere with BREC business? In his 2014 failed race for the Florida House, DeNapoli was angered when DiPietro held a fundraiser for his opponent.
Did DeNapoli’s personal feelings influence his endorsement of Democrat Tanner Channing Demmery?
BREC members deserve answers, right?