In June 2012, just months before they launched a massive Democrat voter outreach effort in Broward County, Congressman Alcee Hastings gave an award named after his mother to Broward Supervisor of Elections Office (SOE) attorney Burnadette Norris-Weeks. REDBROWARD obtained photgraphs of Norris-Weeks accepting the “Mildred Hastings Tenacity Award” at a June 3, 2012 Hastings event in Broward County. Earlier this week, REDBROWARD revealed Norris-Weeks received more than a plaque from the controversial congressman.
Federal campaign records show Congressman Hastings paid Avenue Executive, a company owned by Burnadette Norris-Weeks, for planning the “Step Up To The Polls” 2012 Democrat Get-Out-The-Vote (GOTV) efforts. On October 12, 2012, Hastings’ campaign made a $2,000 “GOTV Contribution” to Avenue Executive. According to Hastings, Norris-Weeks’ event was a major component of his Operation: Big Vote plan to maximize African-American voter turnout.
Does Burnadette Norris-Weeks do any other work for Congressman Alcee Hastings?
Federal campaign records show Congressman Alcee Hastings (D-FL) paid a company owned by Burnadette Norris-Weeks,the Broward Supervisor Of Elections Office Attorney, for her role in 2012 Democrat Get-Out-The-Vote (GOTV) efforts. On October 12, 2012, Hastings’ campaign made a $2,000 “GOTV Contribution” to Avenue Executive of Fort Lauderdale. State of Florida records show Burnadette Norris-Weeks has been the managing member of the Avenue of the Arts Executive Suites, LLC since 2010.
Last month, REDBROWARD exposed Norris-Weeks’ role in Congressman Hastings “non-partisan” scheme to boost African-American turnout for the 2012 Presidential election. Hastings teamed up with Rev. Al Sharpton, convicted Commissioner Joe Eggelletion and other Democrats for a get out the vote (GOTV) program dubbed “Operation: Big Vote.” Plans included a Sharpton rally in Pompano Beach and a “Souls To The Polls” march to early voting locations.
Federal campaign financial records show Alcee Hastings’ campaign gave $15,365 to Operation: Big Vote between September and November 2012.
According to Hastings and Operation: Big Vote leaders, the biggest event was the “Step Up To The Polls” march organized by Norris-Weeks and her Avenue Executive partner, Kathy Eggleston. Is this video produced by Hastings, he says Norris-Weeks is “spearheading” this GOTV event.
REDBROWARD reported how Congressman Hastings and a former South Florida Sun-Sentinel senior editorial writer touted Norris-Weeks’ 2012 rally.
In an October 2012 Westside Gazette article, Hastings wrote, “I tried to get a current list of all of the African American organizations in Broward County. Nobody, I mean nobody, is working from a list that has all the names and leaders of every organization in Broward. That’s ridiculous people.”
Hastings continued, “Enter Step Up to the Polls, the brainchild of Burnadette Norris-Weeks and her law partner. They have pulled together what I believe will be the most effective effort of an African American led effort this election season. I am following their leadership, and I encourage you to do the same.”
One week later, Sun-Sentinel Editorial Writer Douglas Lyons praised Norris Weeks’ work to get President Obama re-elected. Lyons wrote, “Even better, other black professionals and organizations have organized similar efforts. Take today’s early morning “Steps to the Polls,” a march from downtown Fort Lauderdale to one of the early voting polling sites at the African American Research Library and Cultural Center…spearheaded by prominent attorney Burnadette Norris Weeks, is just one of several last-minute attempts to rally the faithful to take advantage of early voting and tip the scales of a razor-thin race in Florida to the president’s advantage.”
Operation: Big Vote and Step Up To The Polls claimed to be non-partisan movements, but Lyons clearly was not buying their claims. Lyons’ wife was the tresurer for Norris-Weeks’ political committee known as “The Right Group.”
Congressman Hastings financial support for Norris-Weeks’ Avenue Executive continued with a $500 “sponsorship donation” in 2013 and a $500 “donation” in 2014.
Once again, Dr. Brenda Snipes needs to answer questions regarding her private contract attorney’s role in partisan politics and elections.
Did Operation: Big Vote utilize resources, data or staff for the Broward Supervisor of Elections Office?
Was Dr. Snipes aware her lawyer was conducting a march on the final day of early voting in 2012?
Did Dr. Snipes attend the “Step Up To The Polls” rally?
Did anyone else sponsor the “Step Up To The Polls” rally? An October 18, 2012 Westside Gazette story said, “For sponsorship, opportunities and more information contact Burnadette Norris-Weeks at (954) 768-9770 or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Burnadette Norris-Weeks, the private contract attorney for Broward Supervisor of Elections (SOE) Brenda Snipes, has been hosting candidate forums since at least 2006. Snipes and Norris-Weeks have come under fire for her political activities while serving as the Elections Office chief legal adviser. Snipes rebuffed requests from Broward County Commissioners to keep her employees and vendors from dealing with elections issues involving candidates they have supported and/or endorsed.
REDBROWARD revealed Burnadette Norris-Weeks operated “The Right Group” political committee from 2003 to 2013. Her committee gave campaign contributions to many local politicians including Joe Eggelletion and Brenda Snipes. REDBROWARD reported the treasurer of Norris-Weeks’ committee is the wife of former South Florida Sun-Sentinel senior editorial writer Douglas C. Lyons.
In March 2006, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel announced a forum for Fort Lauderdale City Commission candidates at the African American Research Library. According to the Sun-Sentinel, “The Council of Civic Associations, which sponsored an earlier forum, is also sponsoring this one. This time, the forum is co-sponsored by The Right Group, a nonprofit political committee formed to educate and empower African-American voters in Broward County.” All political committees are “non-profit.”
Days later, the Sun-Sentinel reported how organizers were upset some candidates skipped the forum. “City Commission candidate Charlotte Rodstrom shunned the only official citywide election forum Thursday, one specifically aimed at black voters,” the newspaper reported. “At the forum, candidates were to take turns responding to questions, including one about whether Sistrunk Boulevard should be narrowed to two lanes. That plan is stalled, because Broward County Commissioner John Rodstrom, the candidate’s husband, has blocked it.”
Did Norris-Weeks support the Sistrunk Boulevard plan? Did she oppose Charlotte Rodstrom’s candidacy? The newspaper never mentioned Norris-Weeks’ involvement with “The Right Group.”
In 2012, The Sun-Sentinel announced another Right Group sponsored candidate forum, “Candidates Forum,6 p.m. at 2520 NW Sixth St., Fort Lauderdale. Free. Call 954-345-7745.” This number is connected to a business owned by Burnadette Norris-Weeks. No further information on the forum is available.
Another stunning example of the partisan political activities by the lawyer for Broward Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes raises more questions:
Did Dr. Snipes know about The Right Group political committee?
Did Dr. Snipes know about the candidate forums sponsored by The Right Group?
How many candidate forums have been hosted by The Right Group?
Did any candidates who received contributions from The Right Group attend these forums?
Did The Right Group endorse any candidates?
Did the South Florida Sun-Sentinel endorse any candidates supported by The Right Group?
If so, what was the involvement of former South Florida Sun-Sentinel senior editorial writer Douglas C. Lyons?