Dan Lewis’ Pattern Of Elections Law Violations Goes Beyond “Blue Card”

you_doodle_2016-04-25t20_33_51z-1Over the weekend, Broward Democrats loudly complained about the latest version of the”phony” blue endorsement card. As REDBROWARD previously reported, the card is the handiwork of the long-winded Democrat consultant Dan Lewis.  On Sunday, Broward Democrat officials denounced, “the deplorable campaign tactics of political operative Dan Lewis, Florida Democracy Project, and the attempt to mislead voters with the “Blue Card” slate.” Acting Broward Democrat Chair Cynthia Busch said, ““I want to make it very clear to voters that the Democratic Party is in no way connected to the “Blue Card”. This is an underhanded tactic that tarnishes the Democratic process.” Busch added, ” “I have no knowledge that anyone who appears on the card is responsible for the actions of Mr. Lewis. Candidates should not be unfairly associated with this type of behavior.”

Delighted with the modicum of publicity, Lewis claimed there was nothing wrong with his card. “We are in compliance with all rules,” Lewis told Buddy Nevins of Browardbeat.com. “I’m into transparency,” Lewis said. “Everything will be disclosed.”

However, State investigations dating back to the year 2000 show Lewis has not always complied with the law.

MIRAMAR LOCAL

Eleven years ago, a Broward/Palm Beach New Times story detailed Lewis’ flouting of Florida elections law. Reporter Trevor Aaronson wrote, “[S]ince leaving the Miramar City Commission in 1997, Lewis has dodged complaints of unethical behavior, moved to Fort Lauderdale, and refashioned himself as the go-to techie for Broward’s political machines, both Democratic and Republican.” According to Miramar resident Sherry Abdin, “Dan Lewis was the puppet master of Miramar.”

During the election of 2000, Lewis composed a mailer entitled “Miramar Local.” The mail piece promoted his favored candidates while attacking their opponents, Mayor Lori Moseley and Marjorie Conlan. Lewis’ wrote, “Heaven help us all if [Moseley] is elected….We suggest Moseley is putting her political campaign and personal agenda above the need for excellent legal representation for all of our taxpayers, as usual.”

Lewis described Conlan as a “do nothing” crony of Moseley. He had glowing words for Conlan’s opponent, Fitzroy Salesman. Lewis wrote, “[N]ewcomer Fitzroy Salesman who has little or no governmental experience, is fiercely independent and will represent an important diversity on the city commission.. Most people believe the city suffered with Conlan for six years, its time for a fresh new voice.”

Just days after he was elected, Salesman was hit with elections violations. He was fined $2,566.62 for not submitting his campaign treasury report on time. Salesman claimed the notice to file from the City Clerk was, “buried in junk mail and other pieces of mail.”

(FUN FACT: In 2010, Fitzroy Salesman was arrested in a public corruption sting. He spent three years in prison. So much for Lewis’ “fresh voice.”)

One month earlier, the Florida Elections Commission [FEC] found probable cause to believe Lori Moseley’s opponent, former Commissioner Jim Cundiff violated election laws. Cundiff faced a $115,215 fine.The commission also found basis for two of six campaign violation complaints against Dan Lewis, who was Cundiff’s campaign manager.

The FEC found probable cause Dan Lewis “violated Sections 106.143(1) and 106.19(1 )(c), Florida Statutes, when [Lewis] ‘ published and distributed the ‘Miramar Local’.” FEC investigators determined Lewis failed ‘to mark all political advertisements as a ‘pd. pol adv’ or a ‘paid political advertisement’ and to identify the sponsor.”  Investigators also found “probable cause to believe that [Lewis] violated Section 106.19(J)(c), Florida Statutes, prohibiting a person or organization from falsely reporting or failing to report information required by this chapter.”

According to the Miami Herald, “Political consultant Dan Lewis failed to label as a political
advertisement a 1999 newsletter that criticized Miramar Mayor Lori Moseley and promoted her opponent, Jim Cundiff. He also failed to report the $1,693 he spent on 5,000 newsletters as an independent expenditure with the city clerk.”

In March 2001, Lewis told the Sun-Sentinel, “I believe there is no probable cause. They will not find that I broke any law….I think these laws on technical infractions have to be revisited sometime.”

LEWIS ADMISSIONS TO FEC

In his response to the FEC, Lewis appeared to admit his guilt. His lawyer submitted this statement:

On or about February 25, 1999, Dan Lewis published a direct mail piece identified as the “Miramar Local” which was mailed to registered voters in the City of Miiamar. The publication supported the candidacy of Jim Cundiff~ who was a candidate for the office of Mayor of Miramar at the election of March 9, 1999. The publication also opposed the candidacy of Lori Moseley, who was also running for mayor at that election A copy of the “Miramar Local” is attached as exhibit.

The FEC determined candidate Cundiff had made numerous payments to Lewis and his company, even though Lewis claimed he paid for the publication and distribution of the pamphlet with his own money.

While neither denying or admitting guilt, Dan Lewis signed a consent order with the FEC on April 23, 2002. No fine was levied and Lewis paid his own legal costs.

Lewis moved on from the Miramar Local pamphlet when he came up with his blue endorsement card. A comment on a BrowardBeat story signed by Dan Lewis states, “‘The Blue Card’ by design and purpose is to advance democratic progressive candidates, and has been distributed in each of the last 3 election cycles including five (5) elections, including this one. It is neither illegal, nor ‘fake’ as the Sheriff Israel political machine would suggest.”

However State investigators may feel differently about Lewis’ “blue card.”

BLUE CARD 2014

Last May, the Florida Elections Commission (FEC) once again dealt with an investigation into Dan Lewis’ campaign tactics. The FEC unanimously voted to fine a company owned by Lewis for violations of Florida election law. The FEC investigation focused upon “blue cards” and “red cards” produced for the 2014 election by The Democracy Project, a fictitious entity created by Lewis’ STAR, Inc. In a 5-0 vote, the FEC determined Strategic Technologies & Research, Inc (STAR, Inc.) violated Florida Statutes sections 106.071(1) and 106.19(1)(c). Investigators determined failed to file expenditure reports and “deliberately failed” to include required information on expenditure reports.

REDBROWARD reported STAR, Inc claimed they solicited no funds to pay for the “blue cards.” The state believed they listed expenditures for $399 (just below a $400 threshold) instead of the actual cost.

In October 2014, Dan Lewis bragged about his “blue card” scheme to BrowardBeat.com. He said he was using the cards to oppose the Broward School Board bond issue. Lewis said, “It comes down to trust, and I just don’t trust the School Board to act in either a responsible or professional manner or neither should you.” Lewis claimed he printed one million cards, with 500,000 to be mailed to Broward voters. Lewis told BrowardBeat he would send the card to 750,000 email address as well.

THE ONE MILLION BLUE CARD MYTH

But State investigators found Lewis did not print one million “blue cards.” Investigators obtained invoices from Lewis’ printer, The Printer’s Printer, and cancelled checks. Robert Zelinka of The Printer’s Printer told investigators he had printed just 200,000 cards for Lewis. Zelinka said just 117,000 cards were mailed to Broward voters. On October 9, 2014, the company submitted an invoice for $12,499 to Lewis’ Strategic Technologies & Research, Inc. Lewis was billed $10,126 for 3 versions of “postcards’ and $2,373 for three different mail “drops.” This invoice was received one week before Lewis told BrowardBeat he had printed one million cards.

“COUNTERFEIT” UNION LABEL ON BLUE CARDS

State investigators also determined the “blue cards” were stamped with a phony union label. Many Democrat candidates display a union label on their mailers out of respect to unions’ longtime support of Democrat causes. In July 2015, State investigator Keith Smith spoke with Tom Schatz, a chief investigator for the Teamsters Union in Washington, D.C.

Smith had faxed a copy of the mailer to Schatz to determine the validity of the union label on the “blue cards.” According to Smith’s notes, Schatz said, “that after reviewing the copy of the union-label and asking around, it was determined that the union-label was definitely not theirs and was a ‘counterfeit’ union-label. He said it appears that someone ‘made up’ the union-label and ‘stuck it on’ the mailer.”

ATTEMPT TO FOOL VOTERS?

Did Dan Lewis hope to fool voters with a fake union bug on the “blue cards?” While that’s not clear, many local Democrats believed Lewis’ “blue cards” were indeed a dirty trick meant to fool Democrat voters. In early November 2014, Palm Beach Democrat officials warned voters about the cards. The Palm beach Post reported, “The palm card, called ‘The Blue Card 2014 Voting Slate,’ appears to target Maria Sachs, the Democratic candidate for State Senator (District 34) and Andy O’Brien, the party’s choice for County Commissioner (District 4), wrote the county’s party chair Terrie Rizzo, in a party email alert. The Blue Card lists legitimate Democratic candidates in other races, but for Sachs’ and O’Brien’s districts, it lists their Republican opponents instead — Ellyn Bogdanoff and Steven Abrams.”

“The cards are blue in color, sent by something called ‘The Democracy Project.’ The Democracy Project is the brainchild of a Broward County-based political strategist who has used the same technique in prior years to influence voters,” Rizzo wrote. “The purpose of these Palm Cards seems to be to confuse Democratic voters into voting for Republican candidates. Please don’t be fooled.”

In Broward County, the Lewis “blue card” listed Republican Chip LaMarca instead of his Democrat challenger Ken Keechl. Sources told REDBROWARD Broward Democrat leaders were incensed when party chairman Mitch Ceasar failed to rebuke the Lewis “blue card.” Now, Dan Lewis is the main consultant for Ceasar’s campaign to be Broward County Clerk of Courts.

LEWIS ATTACKS THE MESSENGER

Attorney Colleen O’Loughlin represented STAR, Inc in the FEC matter. She used many legal tactics to stop the investigation, including a claim that STAR, Inc’s relationship with The Printer’s Printer involved “trade secrets” which were confidential. O’Loughlin even urged the FEC to seek criminal charges against the Broward resident who filed the complaint.

BLUE CARD 2016

Dan Lewis continues to attack the critics of his campaign tactics. On BrowardBeat Lewis arrogantly boasts, ““I’m upset that these (critics) view the voters as being that easy influenced….I am overjoyed that The Blue Card added some excitement into the primary.”

NEXT: BUZZ SURROUNDING BLUE CARD STINGS CANDIDATES

 

Broward State Attorney Mike Satz Discusses “Pill Mills” & One Of His Favorite TV Shows

Last night, True Broward TV was on location at The Hispanic Vote meeting in Davie as Broward State Attorney Mike Satz discussed the legal state of Broward County. Satz talked about the fall of the drug Flaaka, the rise of Fentanyl and the steps taken in 2009 to close “pill mills.”

While discussing Broward County’s reputation as the “pill mill Capitol” of the United States, the famously private Satz revealed some of his television viewing habits. Satz said the FX program “Justified” was one of his favorites. The long-running, critically acclaimed crime drama focused on a US Marshall fighting drug traffickers in Kentucky.

Judicial Candidate Spamming Judges With Campaign Emails

doreen2In an apparent violation of Florida elections law, Broward County Judges are receiving campaign solicitations from a candidate for Broward County Circuit Court. At least two sitting judges received wordy emails urging them to contribute to the campaign of Doreen Turner Inkeles. Florida Statute 106.15(4) states, “No person shall make and no person shall solicit or knowingly accept any political contribution in a building owned by a governmental entity.”

Inkeles’ email urging up to $1,000 contributions went sent to the judges’ official email accounts. The Broward County Courthouse is owned by a government entity. Florida Statute 106.15(5) states, “Any person violating the provisions of this section commits a misdemeanor of the first degree.”

The Inkeles email is signed by 7 lawyers: Steven Berzner, Deborah Ann Byles, Nancy Brodzki, Mark Abzug, Doreen Yaffa, Joel Feldman and Scott J. Brook. (Yesterday, REDBROWARD reported Brook was all smiles with Lea Krauss, another candidate for Broward County Circuit Court. Brook faced ethics charges for failing to report a free yacht trip provided by the corrupt developers, Shawn and Bruce Chait.)

The long, wordy-email states:

To contribute to her campaign, you can make your check payable to the Doreen Turner Inkeles Campaign(maximum of $1,000.00 per person and/or entity) and send it to the address above. You can also contact Doreendirectly on her mobile phone at 954-729-7890 or by email to ElectDoreenTurnerInkeles@OurFloridaCourts.orgDoreen will be happy to talk with you. Of course, you can also contact any one of us directly anytime to discuss her campaign as well.

Last year, the issue of sending campaign emails to government buildings was raised during the Jacksonville Mayoral race. In February 2014, Mayor Alvin Brown emailed campaign solicitations to government employees and leaders. Jacksonville.com reported Brown’s campaign emailed an urgent fundraising appeal to thousands of people, asking them to “stand with me” by donating “$50, $35 or $10 to my campaign today.”

The emails forced Jerry Holland, the Jacksonville Supervisor of Elections, to investigate the matter. According to Holland, his consultations with the Florida Division of Elections determined email solicitations were illegal.

State law prohibits campaign fundraising on government property, and that would include fundraising sent to government email accounts, Holland said.

Holland said of the Brown campaign’s emails. “It’s a matter of them doing their due diligence and removing the government addresses.”

City Councilman Bill Bishop told Jacksonville.com, “[I]t’s ‘campaign literature 101’ to not send fundraising letters to government email accounts.”

Besides the possible illegality of the campaign contribution solicitation, the email shows TEAM Inkeles may be avid REDBROWARD readers.

NAME GAME NO MORE?

In September, REDBROWARD exposed Inkeles’ attempt to play the name game.

Even though she’s practiced law for years under the name Inkeles, she filed for the Circuit 17 Group 24 seat under the name “Doreen Carol Turner.” Inkeles divorced Dr. Paul Martin Inkeles in 2000.

Since the divorce, she has continued to use the name Inkeles. The Florida Bar lists her license under the name “Doreen Turner Inkeles.” The Bar lists her place of employment as “Beiner Inkeles & Horvitz PA” in Boca Raton. Internet domain records show her website,InkelesLaw.com, was created in 2007, seven years after her divorce.

Property records show Doreen Turner Inkeles purchased a Coconut Creek home in February 2010. The Broward Clerk of Courts lists Doreen Turner Inkeles as representing clients in 2015. The State of Florida says Doreen C. Inkeles is registered to vote in Broward County at her Coconut Creek address.

Even her Facebook page is listed under “Doreen Turner Inkeles.”

In an interview with REDBROWARD last month, Inkeles claimed the name change was meant to help voters. She said voters had a hard time remembering the name “Inkeles.”

Two weeks later, her email blast lists her as “Doreen Turner Inkeles.”

BROWARD FINALLY GETS A SHOUT-OUT FROM CONSULTANT?

Inkeles’ email was crafted by Strategic Technologies & Research, Inc. When readers click “powered by JNAC” at the bottom of the email, they are redirected to the JNACOnline website. The bottom of the JNAC website states “Copyright (c) 2015-2019 – Strategic Technologies & Research, Inc.”

Also, the campaign solicitation lists Inkeles email as”ElectDoreenTurnerInkeles@OurFloridaCourts.org.” Domain records show “OurFloridaCourts.org” is owned by Strategic Technologies & Research, Inc.

According to State of Florida records, the Fort Lauderdale company is owned by consultant Dan Lewis.

In November, JNACOnline and “OurFloridaCourts.org” appeared on emails sent on behalf of Broward County Court candidate Rhoda Sokoloff, Broward Circuit Court Judge Hope Tieman-Bristol and Broward County Judge John “Jay” Hurley.

REDBROWARD reported the Hurley email forgot an important word in his disclaimer: “Broward.”

Sure, the word “Broward” appeared a few times in Hurley’s email solicitation. But in the all important disclaimer, Hurley used “county judge” not “Broward County Judge.”

Perhaps Hurley thought voters don’t need to have simple things spelled out for them, LIKE THE NAME OF THE OFFICE YOU’RE SEEKING!

The disclaimers from Judge Hope Tieman-Bristol and Rhoda Sokolff also lack the word “Broward” in their disclaimers.

Looks like Lewis learned something since our Hurley story. In the Inkeles email, the disclaimer reads, “Political advertisement paid for and approved by Doreen Turner Inkles for Broward Circuit Judge Gr. 24, Non-Partisan.”

At the time of publication, Inkeles and Lewis had not responded to requests for comment.