Broward Mayor Dale Holness’ campaign team appears to be behind a mysterious federal political committee backing mostly black candidates. Records show Holness’ longtime campaign marketing guru Omar Smith is tied to the “People Over Principle PAC.” These same records show the committee has failed report any money contributions or expenditures as required by law.
Federal Election Commission (FEC) records show People of Principle PAC was created by Charmalin Brown in January 2019. Brown used the address of a Margate UPS store as the headquarters for the political committee. In April 2019, Charmalin Brown purchased the domain name currently used by People Of Principle PAC.
State corporation records show Charmalin Brown, a tax preparer, started a business in 2006 using Omar Smith as her registered agent. Brown used a home on the 300 block of Berenger Walk in Royal Palm Beach as her business address. Numerous records show Omar Smith uses the same Berenger Walk address.
Federal records show People of Principle PAC has never reported its financial information. The FEC sent “failure to file” notices on August 15, 2019, February 19, 2020 and May 1, 2020 to the committee.
In addition to costs used to purchase domain and rent a mailbox at the Margate UPS Store, People Of Principle PAC is spending money on advertisements promoting Broward candidates.
BLACK COMMUNITY EMPOWERMENT
In June 2020, People of Principle PAC purchased a full page advertisement in a Sun-Sentinel insert. The back cover of “Legacy” magazine, an “independent supplement by MIA Media & Communications Group to the Sun Sentinel,” featured an ad entitled “Black Community Empowerment.” The advertisement was a typical campaign palm card instructing voters to support Black Democrat candidates.
Candidates on the card included Congressman Alcee Hastings, Broward School Board Member Rosalind Osgood, Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony, Clerk of the Courts Brenda Forman, Judge Vegina Hawkins, Public Defender candidate Gordon Weekes and Broward Mayor Dale Holness.
Within the last week, the People of Principle PAC sent a similar message to Broward voters. Democrats across the county received a “your vote your voice” mailer touting Broward Mayor Dale Holness, Congressman Alcee Hastings and other black candidates. Even though the mailer states “#BlackVotesMatter” and “#BlackExcellence,” the piece includes several white candidates such as Judge Frank Ledee, Judge Patti Englander Henning and Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz.
While People of Principle PAC does not show who paid for the advertisements or how much they cost, Broward Mayor Dale Holness has been dutifully reporting his campaign finances to the Broward Supervisor of Elections Office. Holness’ records show his 2020 re-election campaign paid more than $34,000 to Omar Smith or companies associated with Smith.
Records show Dale Holness’ campaign paid $31,100 to A Star For I, Inc a company owned by Omar Smith. The campaign paid $4,100 to Flyer Smith, another company owned by Smith. SA Nelson and Associates received a $6,000 payment from Dale Holness’ campaign. According to their website, Omar Smith is “The Date Prince” at SA Nelson.
Of course, People of Principle PAC would not be the first shady political committee tied to Omar Smith and Dale Holness.
A Better Florida For All?
In January 2018, REDBROWARD exposed the roles Omar Smith and County Commissioner Dale Holness played in Dean Trantalis’ Fort Lauderdale Mayoral campaign.
December 2017 City of Fort Lauderdale campaign records show Dean Trantalis’ mayoral campaign hired Sophia Nelson, another consultant tied to County Commissioner Dale Holness. On December 13th, Trantalis paid $1,357 to SA Nelson And Associates for “marketing.” According to Florida business records, SA Nelson and Associates is owned by Sophia A. Nelson.
Florida Division Of Elections records show Sophia A. Nelson is the chairperson of the “A Better Florida For All” political committee. The address for this political committee is the same address found on a December pro-Trantalis email sent to Fort Lauderdale voters by “FlyerSmith.”
Division of Elections records show Omar Smith is the treasurer of the “A Better Florida For All” political committee.
On December 7, 2017 A Better Florida For All hosted a fundraiser for Dean Trantalis. According to an announcement posted on the group’s Facebook page, the A Better Florida For All event was being held at 4325 West Sunrise Boulevard in Plantation. This is the address for All Broward Realty, a company owned by Dale Holness.
In October 2018, Buddy Nevins of Broward Beat reported on four local judicial candidates appearing the endorsement card produced by A Better Florida For All. The card promoted Democrat candidates most notably Andrew Gillum. Nevins wrote, “Four Broward lawyers running for judge could end up in trouble for appearing to violate state Code of Ethics for judicial candidates. Partisan appeals judicial candidates’ ads are forbidden by the Florida Supreme Court Code of Judicial Conduct. Joint advertising by judicial candidates is also prohibited.”
Omar Smith talked to the Sun-Sentinel about the palm card controversy. Smith “insisted this week that none of the candidates were picked because of financial ties to the political action committee or to any of Smith’s businesses, which perform campaign services.”
Shortly thereafter, the State of Florida revoked the registration of A Better Florida For All. Smith failed to properly submit paper to the Florida Division Of Elections. Attempts to contact Smith failed.
Since the committee is no longer a legal entity, legal steps were made to keep the card from being distributed to voters.
In November, Omar Smith made national headlines when Project Veritas showed undercover video of him calling Florida a “cracker state.” Smith was working for the Andrew Gillum campaign.
While some Gillum supporters claimed Omar Smith did not work for the campaign, financial records show otherwise. According to Florida Division of Elections records, the Andrew Gillum campaign paid Smith’s company, FlyerSmith, $50,000 in August 2018.
Also, the Project Veritas video appears to have been recorded inside Dale Holness’ real estate office in Plantation.
Our Conversation With Omar Smith
REDBROWARD called the telephone number listed on the People Of Principle PAC website. Omar Smith answered the telephone.
When asked why the committee did not file the legally required financial reports, Smith said, “Uh…not the treasurer. I just happened to answer the phone.” Smith would not reveal where the committee office was located. He said he has nothing to do with the People of Principle PAC. But he did admit to being behind the A Better Florida For All Committee.
When asked why he was in the People Of Principle offices, Smith said he was asked to answer the telephones. Smith would not say who asked him to answer the telephone calls.
Smith would not reveal if he works for any other candidates, besides Dale Holness, appearing on the People of Principle PAC materials.
Asked about any work for the People of Principle PAC, Smith said he “gave up the website” as an in-kind contribution. Smith would not reveal who he gave control over to.
When asked why he would not answer simple questions about his role or Dale Holness’ role in these materials, Smith said the People Of Principle PAC has “nothing to do with Mr. Holness.”
Given his questionable track record, why would local candidates allow themselves to be featured on mailers and websites controlled by Omar Smith?
Didn’t Gordon Weekes do his homework?
Why didn’t Sheriff Gregory Tony “google” Omar Smith?
Shouldn’t Judges Francois, Henning, Ledee and Hawkins be a bit careful after the 2018 A Better Florida For All Mess?
Will Dale Holness and the other candidates claim ignorance to how they ended up on the People For Principle PAC materials?
Will anyone address the “pay for play” rumors swirling around the pieces?
A Better Florida For All was a State of Florida political committee. It’s governed by a toothless Tallahassee board that levies fines.
A People Of Principle PAC is a Federal political committee. The FEC enforcement wing may have a bit more bite.