The Sun-Sentinel Opinion Makers™️ endorsed Hazelle Rogers opponent after Rogers could not answer questions about payments to a Delaware company known as Purple Bird Communications LLC. Last week, REDBROWARD revealed Rogers paid more than $25,000 to the month-old Purple Bird for work on her Broward County Commission District 9 campaign. Records show Purple Bird Communications shares the same address as Hazelle Rogers’ campaign headquarters.
Just hours after REDBROWARD exposed the existence her payments to Purple Bird Hazelle Rogers amended her campaign reports. According to Broward Supervisor of Elections records, on July 11th at 10:21PM, Rogers deleted the June 28, 2022 payment to Purple Bird Communications. Rogers gave no explanation.
Instead, the amended report changed the address for Purple Bird Communications to the address of the registered agent in Delaware. The agent forms Delaware corporations for a fee and then accepts mail and correspondence on behalf of the true owners. This is required by Delaware law.
The Rogers June 13, 2022 payment to Purple Bird was not changed. It still lists Rogers’ P.O. Box address as Purple Bird’s address.
“She has not earned the trust of Broward voters”
Two days later, The Sun-Sentinel Opinion Makers™️ asked Hazelle Rogers about the REDBROWARD report.
In a Sun Sentinel editorial board interview, Rogers was unable to answer questions about two campaign expenditures totaling more than $25,000 to Purple Bird Communications, whose address is the same Fort Lauderdale P.O. box Rogers uses for her campaign. Rogers’ reports show payments of $22,150 to Purple Bird for “canvassing and designing” and $3,000 for “design marketing materials.” The expenses were first reported by the Red Broward website.
Sun-Sentinel July 15, 2022
Rogers told editors Steve Bousquet and Dan Sweeney that she did not have all the answers about Purple Bird. “I don’t have all the details,” Rogers said. “You contract with a number of people to do different things.” They called Rogers response “woefully inadequate.”
“She has not earned the trust of Broward voters,” they wrote. The Sun-Sentinel Opinion Makers™️ endorsed her opponent, Guithele Ruiz-Nicolas.
The Rogers interview is even worse than described in the endorsement.
Dan Sweeney asked Rogers a simple question-who owns or controls Purple Bird Communications? Rogers played dumb. She claimed to have learned about the issue the day before. Rogers claimed she was finding out information about the company.
“I have a campaign strategist and a group of campaign consultants,” Rogers said. “I follow their guidance.”
(A week earlier, REDBROWARD spotted Tamarac Commissioner Marlon Bolton in Plantation driving Rogers campaign workers and planting signs in yards. Is Bolton one of Rogers’ campaign consultants?)
An incredulous Sweeney wasn’t buying Rogers’ ignorance. He asked why the company shares the same address as her campaign.
“They do? They don’t. But they don’t,” Rogers said. “I can assure that is incorrect.”
Rogers went on to say her campaign doesn’t have “an address other than my house!” Rogers uses the P.O. Box address on official campaign documents as well as her website.
Steve Bousquet asked why Purple Bird Communications was formed in Delaware instead of Florida. Rogers told him she has someone else that handles contracts. When Bousquet read the P.O. Box address from the report, Rogers said, “that sounds familiar.”
Rogers denied that any family member was involved in Purple Bird Communications.
Rogers promised to provide more answers to the editors. Judging by the endorsement of her opponent, it appears Rogers never came up with answers.
Broward voters deserve answers before the August 23rd open primary, no?
The South Florida Sun-Sentinel is so concerned about a grand jury report on corruption at the School Board of Broward County that it endorsed a candidate who touts the support of a “mega-lobbyist” tied to a former Broward School Board Member who served prison time for corruption.
On Tuesday, the Sun-Sentinel Opinion Makers™️ (who do not live in Broward County) told residents to vote for Allen Zeman over incumbent Donna Korn. According to these opinion makers, Korn’s ties to a graduation gown vendor raises a red flag. “[T]his School Board’s history, with its fraud and bribery scandals of the 2000s, she should have known better than to even suggest an appearance of impropriety,” they opined. Then, the Sun-Sentinel brought up reports that a statewide grand jury will recommend the removal of several Broward School Board members.
But the opinion makers don’t seem overly concerned by the purported misdeeds of board members.
Instead, the Sun-Sentinel Opinion Makers™️ are really worried that Governor Ron DeSantis would pick the replacement if Korn is removed after she wins re-election!
We don’t know who the report suggests DeSantis remove or how many, but it’s as likely as not that Korn is among them. Picture this scenario: Korn wins reelection on Aug. 23 and the grand jury report calls for her removal. DeSantis then removes her and replaces her with a board member who shares his right-wing views, who will occupy the seat for the next two years.
—Sun-Sentinel Opinion Makers™️
The Sun-Sentinel includes a comment by Allen Zeman who promises to be the corruption fighter Broward County so desperately needs.
“Meeting Florida ethical standards is like pole vaulting over a mouse turd,” Zeman wrote in his Sun Sentinel questionnaire. “The current culture is unacceptable and does a disservice to our 30,000 employees, the students and all the parents of students. I will lead this effort by example.”
Sounds great, Allen. Just one problem. Your official campaign website touts an endorsement by “mega-lobbyist” Neil Sterling who was tied to the downfall of former Broward County School Board Member Beverly Gallagher.
THE RETURN OF NEIL STERLING
In December 2009, Broward School Board Member Beverly Gallagher was indicted on Federal charges of “extortion, bribery and five counts of honest services fraud for allegedly accepting $12,500 from FBI agents posing as consultants for contractors who were trying to break into the Broward school district’s construction business.” Three months earlier, Beverly Gallagher was arrested in a “corruption sting that also resulted in the arrests of suspended Broward County Commissioner Josephus Eggelletion and former Miramar City Commissioner Fitzroy Salesman….” The Sun-Sentinel itself reported on Gallagher’s deep ties to Sterling.
Two months before Gallagher‘s Federal indictment, the Sun-Sentinel reported how “E-MAILS SHOW LOBBYISTS’ SCHOOL TIES.” The paper described what happened when The Miami Herald asked Beverly Gallagher to name her greatest accomplishment. According to the Sun-Sentinel, Gallagher needed Sterling to answer this easy question.
“But when a Miami Herald reporter e-mailed the question to now-suspended Broward School Board member Beverly Gallagher, she forwarded the request for comment to lobbyists Neil Sterling and Barbara Miller with a note: ‘Well. What do I say.’”
The same Sun-Sentinel story details how FBI a agents questioned Neil Sterling about his influence over Broward School Board Members. According to the report, Stephanie Kraft and Beverly Gallagher were the only board members who used their official accounts to e-mail to Neil Sterling.
“Sterling traded some e-mails with Kraft, whose husband, Mitch, he hired in 2007 to do legal work for his firm. Among their exchanges: Kraft invites Sterling and Miller to join her at the First Ladies of Broward event in 2005, and reminds Sterling, among others, to attend a J.P. Taravella High School production of the musical Les Miserables. Most of the messages, however, were about district business.”
—Sun-Sentinel, October 2009
During the same time frame, The Miami Herald reported, “Law enforcement sources familiar with the ongoing investigation said it is zeroing in on Gallagher’s relationship with lobbyist Neil Sterling and others who sought the School Board member’s vote for school construction projects.”
Bob Norman reported in The News Times that authorities believed Gallagher rigged the bid process to favor businesses represented by her friends. Norman wrote,
“Gallagher, according to the complaint, told the FBI agents she could rig the Qualification Selection Committee (QSEC) that was made up of 11 representatives, including School Board members Jennifer Gottlieb and Ann Murray. When the QSEC met and voted last December 17, Pirtle lobbyists Neil Sterling and Barbara Miller sat in the audience.”
Beverly Gallagher received a three year and one month sentence in Federal prison. She was released in 2013. Neil Sterling was never charged with any crime.
How did The Sun-Sentinel Opinion Makers™️ miss this huge story when they endorsed Allen Zeman?
They have Google at the Sun-Sentinel, don’t they?
Zeman is not hiding the Sterling endorsement. The Sun-Sentinel even includes a link to Zeman’s website.
The sad truth is the Sun-Sentinel Opinion Makers™️ are more concerned with national politics and Ron DeSantis than corruption in Broward County.
Just look at the questionnaire they gave to the School Board candidates.
Here’s the first question:
The Legislature in 2022 passed a law (HB 1467) that allows parents to object to books they consider “inappropriate.” Do you support or oppose this law and why?
The Legislature passed HB 1557, which bans classroom discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in grades K-3 and in higher grades unless it is “age-appropriate.” Critics have called it the “don’t say gay” law. Do you support or oppose it and why?
Define what you consider “age appropriate” for classroom discussion of sexual orientation.
Do you believe that Florida schools try to indoctrinate students, and why?
The school district will ask voters to extend and/or increase an existing property tax that is allowed by state law subject to voter approval. Do you support or oppose this tax increase, and why?
What do you think of changes made in school safety since the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School? What still needs to change?
How would you assess the performance of Superintendent Vickie Cartwright?
The Sun-Sentinel Opinion Makers™️ do not ask about corruption and grand juries until question number eight. While the other questions are valid, the agenda of the Sun-Sentinel is clear.
Corruption in Broward County isn’t a priority to the Sun-Sentinel Opinion Makers™️ as long as the elected officials share their ideology and points of view on cultural issues.
Why is Zeman so proud of the Sterling endorsement?
REDBROWARD asked Zeman about Sterling. He has not responded to our request for comment.
If the Sun-Sentinel and Allen Zeman have their way, Neil Sterling will once again be a power player in Broward County Schools.