Plantation Mayoral Candidate Bart Berger Is “Outraged” At Politicians Except His Consultant Who Was Jailed For Misusing Campaign Funds

In a Facebook video posted Wednesday morning, Plantation Mayoral candidate Bart Berger took a swipe at his opponents, equating them as “blood sucking insects.” Berger said “outrage” over spending taxpayer money on lawyers and consultants drove him to run for mayor. Claiming to be a simple businessman, Berger said a vote for him will defeat, “the entitled few who are out of touch with their responsibility to out city.”

Sound good?

Just one problem. The guy running Bart Berger’s campaign is one of Broward County’s most notorious insiders.

At a July 31, 2018 Mayor forum at Deicke Auditorium, REDBROWARD spoke with former Broward County Commissioner Scott Cowan. Known for running Plantation political campaigns, Cowan confirmed he was advising Bart Berger and Council candidate Richard Cabrera. During the forum, Berger campaign volunteers huddled around Cowan.

In November 2000, Scott Cowan pleaded guilty to six counts of misspending funds from his 1998 campaign. According to the South Florida Business Journal, “Cowan was fined $74,711 in May by the Florida Elections Commission for the same re-election campaign. It was one of the largest fines imposed by the commission.”

In 2000, the Sun-Sentinel shared the tidbits from a 4,000 page document detailing Cowan’s misuse of funds. According to reporter Buddy Nevins, Cowan spent campaign money on filing cabinets for his home, a new water pump for his car and other personal items. Prosecutors said Cowan created fictitious campaign workers who were paid by checks that Cowan cashed at local banks.

[Cowan] pleaded guilty to three counts that he wrote $5,000 in campaign checks to Seymour Tobin, Bertram Nesky, John Hendrikson and Martin Harvatt — nonexistent campaign workers.”

Nevins reported Cowan paid nearly $8,000 to his daughters for campaign work, spent over $7,000 on furniture and accepted a $25,000 contribution after he had been re-elected. “Cowan explained he didn’t know he was violating election laws,” Nevins wrote.

Cowan was sentenced to six months in prison. While on work-release, a Broward Judge refused to allow Cowan to work as a lobbyist. Instead, Cowan worked at a local pizza restaurant. Cowan would end up spending 125 days in jail for his crimes.

According to Nevins, the documents portrayed “Cowan as using his 1998 re-election campaign to treat himself to freebies and enrich a tight circle of his family and friends.”

Some Plantation residents may say this sounds like the very definition of “entitled.”

In his campaign video, Bart Berger laments the use of lobbyists in attempts to keep Plantation General Hospital from moving to Davie.

Does Bart Berger know his campaign advisor is still a lobbyist. Last week, Scott Cowan was lobbying Hollywood Commissioners on behalf of his client. In Hallandale Beach, Commissioner Anabelle Taub has complained about Scott Cowan’s ties to controversial Mayor Keith London and his lobbyist ally Evan Ross.

Cowan told REDBROWARD he was a friend of London and Ross.

On January 23, 2018, the Good Government political committee paid Scott Cowan $3,000 for consulting. Hallandale Beach records indicate Cowan is the registered lobbyist for Gold Coast Companies. As REDBROWARD previously reported, Good Government committee is operated by Evan Ross.

Does Bart Berger want to turn Plantation into Hallandale Beach?

UPDATE: In a response to our story, Bart Berger said, “I do not condone what Mr. Cowen did almost two decades ago. Mr. Cowen is not on the ballot.

Mr Cowan is not responsible for my campaign, I am.

Mr Cowan is not a candidate for Mayor, I am.

Mr Cowan will have no more input with me as Mayor than he had with

Mayor Bendekovic whose 2 mayoral campaigns he was similarly involved. This is not an issue and I believe I have answered your question.

Thank you”

“Rogue” Broward Commissioner Owns Websites For County Trade Expo

Dale Holness speaks at the FITCE VIP Launch, June 2015
Dale Holness speaks at the FITCE VIP Launch, June 2015

Broward County Commissioner Dale V.C. Holness owns websites for an International Trade and Cultural Expo he hoped would be funded with taxpayer dollars. In June 2014, Holness asked the County Commission to support the Florida International Trade and Cultural Expo (FITCE) with funding used to celebrate the County’s Centennial celebration. Holness needed his fellow Commissioners’ approval for funding and use of the Broward County Convention Center.

Holness told Commissioners the expo attendees would, “learn directly from community leaders how to establish and grow their business in South Florida. The overall goal is to educate, promote and welcome international businesses to Broward County.” Holness claimed his expo would costs at least $250,000 to plan.

GOING ROGUE

His fellow Commissioners scoffed at his plan. Commissioner Lois Wexler accused Holness of “going rogue.” She said, ” I support the concept, but I — I — I really object to a Commissioner going out rogue.  I really do.” She objected to Holness’ partners in the expo.

Wexler said, “And the names that I see on this list, some of them I’m absolutely appalled, particularly since some of them are lobbyists. And — and — and — and I just don’t get it.  I just don’t get it.”

Commissioner Stacy Ritter was appalled by Holness’ budget. She said, “the budget is — is staggering.  It’s a huge investment from Broward County.  And we have limited funds. I’m not sure that we should be the ones to facilitate this, be the sponsor.” Ritter even questioned the need for the expo, stating, “If there’s a need for this, I wonder why it hasn’t percolated from the private sector.”

Holness agreed to have County staff review the proposal and bring it before the board at a later date. Holness put the the FITCE event on the December 2014 agenda.

“APPEARS NOT TO BE FEASIBLE”

Holness submitted the same proposal at the December 9, 2014 County Commission meeting with a few minor changes. He moved the event from May 2015 to October 2015. Commissioner Lois Wexler still was not buying it. She wondered why Holness did not include an October 2014 letter from County Staff regarding the expo. She said, “Well, this was a critical piece that wasn’t part of your packet, Commissioner Holness, because this really doesn’t recommend that we should move forward on this.” Wexler referred to an October 2014 review by the County Administrator’s office which said FITCE “appears not to be feasible.”

Wexler said the letter stated,” that there are many, many events.  It actually gives the number, fourteen conferences, that are similar and three that are scheduled that are almost identical in nature.”

Holness claimed the changing of the date made the expo more feasible. He claimed the expo would simply fall under the umbrella of the County while individual groups would plan the events. Holness stated he needed the approval to secure the convention center venue as well as help attract sponsors for the event.

Despite the serious misgivings, the County Commission approved Holness’ proposal.

HOLNESS OWNS FITCE WEBSITE DOMAINS

REDBROWARD found the domain name for the Florida International Trade and Cultural Expo (FITCEXPO.COM) is owned by County Commissioner Dale Holness. The domain name was purchased on February 14, 2015 from GoDaddy.com. Visitors to the website are given scant details of the event. A detailed list of sponsorship packages can be downloaded.

Sponsorship packages start at $5,000 and go up to $30,000 for the “Title Sponsor.”

REDBROWARD has uncovered at least seven other Holness-owned websites which redirect to the FITCE main site. Also purchased in February 2015, these domains include: FITCE.BIZ, FLORIDATRADEEXPO.COM, FLORIDATRADE.NET, FLORIDATRADEEXPO.NET, FLORIDATRADE.ORG, FITCEEXPO.BIZ, FLORIDAINTERNATIONALTRADE.BIZ and FLORIDAINTERNATIONALTRADE.COM.

Why is Commissioner Holness, a real estate agent, gobbling up international trade domain names?

Domain names are not free. Did Holness pay for these domain names out of his own pocket?

Was Holness paid for the use of these domain names?

Is Commissioner Holness running the FITCE website?

Is Commissioner Holness being paid to run the FITCE website?

Is Broward County Commissioner Dale V.C Holness making a single dime off an event held at a taxpayer-owned facility?

Broward voters deserve answers from Commissioner Dale Holness.

Broward Booby Prize: Local Strip Joints Fund Stacy Ritter Campaign

We’re not sure if it was in singles, but in March two local strip clubs gave big campaign contributions to Broward Commissioner Stay Ritter’s re-election campaign. On March 12, 2012, P.T.G Entertainment Inc of Pompano Beach, better known as “THE BOOBY TRAP”, gave Ms. Ritter a $500.00 contribution. On that same day, Faneuil Entertainment Inc, Broward Democrats know them better as CHEETAH III, gave Ritter another $500.00. Let’s hope the folks at King’s Point in Tamarac get a discount on lap dances.

FYI: The Booby Trap’s slogan is “More Fun Fewer Rules!” Maybe Nikki Grossman and her tourism team can make that our new motto? Maybe Ritter will bring The Booby Trap to Parkland and Tamarac? Jobs, jobs, jobs, right?

See U There!

Broward County Commissioner Stacy Ritter