Multiple city staffers instructed a Tamarac non-profit to write checks to local businesses supporting Tamarac Commissioner Marlon Bolton’s personal Turkey Drive last month, records show. A Commissioner staffer as well as City Parks and Recreation employees told the non-profit Parks And Recreation Foundation Of Tamarac (PAROT) to write checks totaling more than $2,000 even though the Board rejected a formal request at their August meeting. Established in 2011, PAROT has sponsored local golf and bowling tournaments to support parks and recreation issues in the City of Tamarac.
In August, Greg Warner, Director of the Parks and Recreation department, asked PAROT to fund Bolton’s Turkey Drive. According to PAROT Chair Julie Fishman, the board flatly rejected the request. But in October, the PAROT treasurer received requests from City staff about the event.
On October 28th, Eliane Benjamin, administrator for the Tamarac City Commission, asked Warner if he could “kind assist” with getting a $500 check issued to The Great Commission Center And Outreach organization. Benjamin said Peter Richards would pick up the check.
On November 2, 2021 PAROT wrote a $500 check to The Great Commission Center And Outreach. A note on the check reads, “Commissioner Bolton’s Turkeys.”
In another email, Benjamin follows up with Warner after a meeting. Benjamin tells Warner that a $400 payment has been promised to Garfield McLean, owner of Ackee Tree Jamaican Restaurant, for fifty boxed meals. While McLean will pick up the check, the meals will be picked up and distributed by Peter Richards of The Great Commission Center and Outreach. Benjamin tells Warner that Richards will also pick up fifty turkey vouchers from Tapatia Supermarket. The meals and turkeys were to be distributed at Bolton’s Turkey Drive on November 13th at Caporella Park.
On November 3, 2021, PAROT wrote a $400 check to Ackee Tree Jamaican Restaurant. The note on check reads, “Commission Bolton-boxed lunches.”
On November 9, 2021 PAROT wrote a $1,341 check to Tapatia Supermarket. The note on check reads, “Comm. Bolton—turkeys.”
A promotional email sent by Commissioner Bolton lists Tapatia Supermarkets, the City of Tamarac and PAROT as sponsors of the event.
REDBROWARD asked Elaine Benjamin if Marlon Bolton instructed her to contact the Parks and Recreation Department and PAROT about writing checks to these businesses. Benjamin said her supervisor told her all inquiries must be made through the public information office.
Why did anyone in City think to involve PAROT in this food drive? How is a Turkey Drive within the purview of the Parks and Recreation Department?
Why is an unknown and brand new non-profit like The Great Commission Center And Outreach and it’s owner given such control over a (allegedly) city sponsored event?
Did every voucher and boxed meal get distributed at the Caporella Park event?
It’s bad enough that a corrupt commissioner strong arms vendors and non-profits to pay for their self-promotional turkey drives, but it’s even worse when city employees are forced to be co-conspirators. Complaints must be filed with the Florida Ethics Commission on both Bolton and Elaine Benjamin. Their actions violate:
Chapter 112.313(2), which states, “SOLICITATION OR ACCEPTANCE OF GIFTS.—No public officer, employee of an agency, local government attorney, or candidate for nomination or election shall solicit or accept anything of value to the recipient, including a gift, loan, reward, promise of future employment, favor, or service, based upon any understanding that the vote, official action, or judgment of the public officer, employee, local government attorney, or candidate would be influenced thereby.”
Chapter 112.313(6), which states, “MISUSE OF PUBLIC POSITION.—No public officer, employee of an agency, or local government attorney shall corruptly use or attempt to use his or her official position or any property or resource which may be within his or her trust, or perform his or her official duties, to secure a special privilege, benefit, or exemption for himself, herself, or others.”
You can download and file the Complaint form here: http://www.ethics.state.fl.us/FinancialDisclosure/DownloadAForm.aspx
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