Dale Holness with Keon Hardemon (right)
Billy and Barbara Hardemon (courtesy Florida Bulldog)

Family members of Miami-Dade Commissioner Keon Hardemon want to influence Broward elections with the formation of a new political committee. Earlier this year, REDBROWARD exposed the growing “unholy alliance” between Keon Hardemon and controversial Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness. Records show Hardemon’s aunt, Barbara Hardemon formed the “Better Leadership” political committee last month. The timing appears to coincide with a campaign for a seat on the Broward County Commission by a favorite of Dale Holness.

Miramar Commissioner Alexandra Davis filed her campaign paperwork for the District 8 seat on the Broward County Commission on May 3, 2021. Barbara Sharief is expected to resign from this County Commission in order to run for U.S. Congress CD 20. In April, Alexandra Davis endorsed Dale Holness in the same CD 20 race.

On May 7, 2021, Barbara Hardemon filed the “Better Leadership” paperwork with the Broward Supervisor of Elections office. Hardemon stated the committee would “support local issues” in Miami-Dade and Broward. Last week, REDBROWARD revealed Barbara and her husband Billy were already supporting Alexandra Davis’ campaign.

In her first campaign treasurer’s report, Alexandra Davis lists a $1,000 contribution from B&B Professional Consultants Inc. State business records show B and B Professional Consultants, Inc. is owned by Barbara Hardemon. Davis reports another $1,000 contribution from Barbara Hardemon.

The Hardemon family appears to be prolific supporters of Team Dale Holness.

In January, REDBROWARD reported B&B Professional Consulting Inc. made a large contribution to the Margate-based “People of Principle PAC.” In 2020 REDBROWARD revealed Broward Mayor Dale Holness’ campaign team appeared to be behind the mysterious federal political committee which backed mostly black Caribbean-American candidates. On October 3, 2020, B and B Professional Consultants, Inc. made a $2,500 contribution to the federal “People of Principle PAC.”

THE HARDEMON WAY?

According to published reports, Barbara Hardemon and her husband Billy Hardemon are closely tied to projects coming before the Miami City Commission where Keon Hardemon served before winning a seat on the Miami-Dade County Commission.

In March 2019, the Miami Herald featured Barbara Hardemon in “How Miami commissioner’s aunt became a high-priced lobbyist.“

After failing the previous year to convince the city to hold a voter referendum on the project at Jungle Island, real estate investment firm ESJ Capital Partners hired Barbara Hardemon to hurriedly set up meetings during the first week in June with Commissioner Keon Hardemon’s staff. Over a 48-hour stretch, they say she assisted in negotiating a deal that will steer millions into housing and economic development funds during the life of the park’s extended lease on Watson Island and helped nail down her nephew’s support for a voter referendum.

One month later, Barbara Hardemon was hired again, this time by David Beckham’s Major League Soccer franchise as it neared a make-or-break vote on a $1 billion stadium and retail proposal. She registered three days before a scheduled vote and arranged a lunch at a waterfront restaurant between her nephew and the Mas brothers, the Miami businessmen who are part owners of the MLS franchise. Days later, Commissioner Hardemon voted in a close decision to put the proposal on the November ballot.

In August 2020, the Florida Bulldog exposed how one activist claimed Keon Hardemon funded a non-profit operated by Barbara and Billy Hardemon.

The same day, [Grady] Muhammad filed a letter with the city clerk addressed to Mayor Francis Suarez…attacking Hardemon for sponsoring and voting for resolutions that awarded hundreds of thousands of dollars in city and federal grants to the Martin Luther King Economic Development Corp. and the Foundation Of Community Assistance and Leadership, aka FOCAL, since he was first elected in 2013. Billy Hardemon is the economic development corporation’s volunteer chairman and his wife, Barbara, is FOCAL’s $25,094-a-year executive director. Their two daughters are also employed by the foundation, earning annual salaries of $70,494 and $50,989, respectively.

Now, one of the Hardemon daughters is playing a major role in the “Better Leadership” political committee.

WONT YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR?

In paperwork filed with the Broward Supervisor of Elections office, Barbara Hardemon stated the “Better Leadership” committee was located at 3900 S.W. 26th Street in West Park. Barbara and Bill Hardemon live next door at 3840 S.W. 26th Street. Broward property records show the home at 3900 S.W. 26th Street is owned by their daughter, Zakiya Hardemon Kelley.

According to the City of Miramar website, Zakiya Kelley is the assistant director of their cultural affairs division. REDBROWARD asked Zakiya Hardemon Kelley for comment. She has yet to respond.

This is not the first case of a City of Miami to City of Miramar political pipeline.

MIAMI ETHICS PROBE PUT SPOTLIGHT ON MIRAMAR GOVERNMENT

An August 2013 investigation by the Miami-Dade Ethics Commission exposed the role Billy and Barbara Hardemon played in City of Miramar politics. The 2013 complaint alleged Billy Hardemon, then an employee with the Miami-Dade County Department of Public Works and Waste Management (PWWM), spent “substantial amounts of county time, taken without authorized leave, in the City of Miramar, in Broward County…during hours when Hardemon was understood to be working at his Miami-Dade County job.”

What was Billy Hardemon doing in Miramar? According to the complaint, Hardemon attended numerous City of Miramar government meetings as the “de facto chief of staff” for Miramar City Commissioner Yvette Colburne. (Other employees claimed Hardemon served a similar role with Miramar City Commissioner Alexandra Davis).

In an interview with investigators, Colburne admitted Billy Hardemon was her “advisor.” She said his role was to advise her and “attend meetings for and with her.” While he assisted with her campaign, Colburne stated Hardemon was not paid or compensated in anyway.

However, investigators determined Colburne’s campaign paid $2,000 to B and B Professional Consultants, Inc., a company owned by Barbara Hardemon.

Colburne told investigators that Billy Hardemon and Barbara Hardemon were members of “Team Colburne.” As to his employment in Miami-Dade County, Colburne told investigators, “I felt that was being handled with his superiors.”

The whistleblower claimed Hardemon’s superior, PWWM director Kathleen Woods-Richardson, was fully aware of his violations.

When asked if she was aware of Hardemon working for Yvette Colburne in Miramar, Woods-Richardson told investigators, “absolutely not!”

Investigators were shocked by Woods-Richardson’s denial. In addition to calling Hardemon a “friend,” Woods-Richardson’s assistant was Yvette Colburne.

Additionally, the interview with Kathleen Woods-Richardson was held at the Miramar government center. After Colburne was elected to office, Woods-Richardson was named Miramar City Manager.

While the investigator was not persuaded by the testimony of Colburne and Woods-Richardson, he could find no evidence that Woods-Richardson “directed” Hardemon to work for Colburne in order to increase her chances of becoming city manager.

Like Alexandra Davis, Yvette Colburne is a staunch ally of Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness.

Miami-Dade. Miramar. Is Broward County Government next to fall under the influence of the Hardemon family?

Alexandra Davis on right, with Yvette Colburne and Dale Holness

Published by Tom Lauder

Covering South Florida Politics Since 2010...As Seen On: POLITICO, The Huffington Post, The South Florida Sun-Sentinel, The Miami Herald, WPLG LOCAL 10 (ABC MIAMI), The New Times

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