Damara Holness has only been President of the Broward County Black Democratic Caucus for four short months, but she is already facing serious questions about the group’s finances. On April 29, 2019, Holness was sworn into office by her father, controversial Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness. Like her father, Ms. Holness is very involved in Broward politics. Most recently, she was a consultant for Coral Springs City Commission candidate Khurrum Wahid.
Even before she officially took over as President, Damara Holness demanded the previous Board turn over numerous documents, passwords and membership lists to her. In emails obtained by REDBROWARD, Holness did not care that the Board Secretary was unavailable because she was on vacation with her children. On March 27, 2019 Holness wrote, “I’m not sure if you’re aware but the transition was supposed to happen [e]lection night….I understand it is Spring Break however…information…is needed to be sent to Tenille immediately as the Broward Board members has to do a review immediately….” Despite being out of town, former Board members Robin Figueroa, Junior Dennis and Keith Martin tried to provide Holness with the information she demanded.
In one email, Figueroa told Holness much of this information was being turned over as a courtesy to make a smooth transition. She stated her Board received no such courtesy from their predecessors. Figueroa wrote, “What I am providing you is what I have created. Your demands are not necessary as I am here to assist you in your success. Please note that I am not withholding anything from you. I am giving you far more than we had been given.”
From the turmoil at the August 2019 Broward County Black Democratic Caucus meeting, members believe Holness and her Board are now withholding information from them.
THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS MISSING?
At the August meeting, treasurer Roderick Kemp reported the Broward County Black Democratic Caucus had less than $1,100 in their bank account plus less than $4,000 in a separate PayPal account. Former treasurer Junior Dennis questioned Holness and the Board about the amount in account. He claimed there was currently less than $1,000 in the account.
In an interview with Dennis, he stated the Caucus had nearly $6,000 in the bank account when Holness took control. Dennis said most of that money came from recent Black History month fundraiser. Dennis said it is hard to believe Holness could spend large sums of money without an election or voter registration drive over the last four months.
Dennis stated the bylaws limit discretionary spending by the President to one hundred dollars without the approval of the Caucus. Dennis claimed Holness and her Board plan to further violate the bylaws by ignoring requirement of a monthly treasurer’s report. He said Holness announced plans to make it a quarterly report.
Dennis told REDBROWARD that an audit of the Caucus’ finances is urgently needed.
Documents obtained by REDBROWARD appear to back Dennis’ claims. The minutes from the February meeting show a balance of $5,851.37 in the Broward County Black Democratic Caucus bank account.
A February 28, 2019 screenshot shows $2,458.84 in the PayPal account. The screenshots show a large payment by Damara Holness. According to a notation, the screenshot “Shows the 39 payments made by Damara Holness for 39 memberships prior to Elections totaling $1,650.”
Damara Holness and her Board did not respond to repeated requests for comment.