A Broward political committee operated by relatives of Miami-Dade County Commissioner Keon Hardemon received more than $111,000 from Miami based special interests just days before a vote rezoning the Calusa Golf Course, records show. In June, REDBROWARD exposed the growing “unholy alliance” between Keon Hardemon and controversial Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness. Records showed Hardemon’s aunt, Barbara Hardemon formed the “Better Leadership” political committee in May. In its first five months, the Hardemon political committee pulled in just $12,000 in contributions.
But in October, Better Leadership reported a whopping $111,500 from twenty-one contributors. Nineteen of the twenty-one contributions came from Miami-Dade County. One contribution came from Palm Beach while another was made by a construction company based in New York City. Not a single contribution to the Broward-based Better Leadership political committee came from Broward County.
Zero, zip, nada.
Why were so many Miami developers, architects, construction companies and lawyers giving money to a Broward PAC?
In June, REDBROWARD reported the creation of the Better Leadership PAC appeared to coincide with Alexandra Davis’ campaign for a seat on the Broward County Commission. Miramar Commissioner Alexandra Davis filed her campaign paperwork for the District 8 seat on the Broward County Commission on May 3, 2021. She is a close ally of Dale Holness.
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. 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.
But with the County Commission nearly a year away, would these Miami special interests flood a pro-Davis PAC with so much cash?
The timing of these large contributions suggests they may be related to issues before the Miami-Dade County Commission not the Broward County Commission.
BETTER LEADERSHIP IN BROWARD OR MIAMI-DADE?
Broward Supervisor of Elections records show twenty of the twenty-one contributions were made on October 28, 2021. On November 17, 2021 Keon Hardemon and the Miami-Dade County Commission voted to allow construction of 550 homes on the Calusa Golf Course in Kendall. Residents objected to turning the golf course, a nature preserve in a existing community, into a giant development.
The developers were represented by the Bilzin Sumberg law firm. On its website, Bilzin Sumberg brags how it worked to get a restrictive covenant removed which paved the way for the 550 homes.
Election records show Bilzin Sumberg and eight of its lawyers made $9,000 in contributions to Better Leadership on October 28, 2021.
REDBROWARD reached out the the lawyers at Bilzin Sumberg to ask about the contributions to the Better Leadership political committee. Anthony De Yurre, a partner at Bilzin Sumberg said he could not recall why he gave the Broward PAC a $1,000 contribution. When asked if he spoke with Barbara Hardemon about the contribution, De Yurre said, “no.”
When asked if the Bilzin Sumberg contributions were tied to their work on the Calusa Golf Course matter, De Yurre said, “no comment” and ended the call.
Who asked for the Better Leadership contributions? Why did Miami lawyers give their hard earned cash to a Broward PAC? Giving money to a Better Leadership is perfectly legal, so why is it so hard to recall the specifics from one month ago?
Attorney David Winker, who represents residents opposed to the Calusa redevelopment plans, did not seem shocked by the contributions. “Listen, Commissioners [Joe] Martinez and [Sally] Heyman openly spoke about knowing that the fix was in,” Winker said. “Democracy is not working when Commissioners are openly speaking about the fact that the hearing is a waste of time because approval was a foregone conclusion.”
Winker said Commissioner should disclose any money received before they vote. “At the end of the day, everyone in favor of this was paid,” Winker said.
Calls to the Better Leadership political committee went unanswered.
Do Broward voters want this Miami style of government coming here?
Is the Hardemon family really offering Better Leadership to Broward residents?