Tag Archives: Ethics Matter

Hallandale Beach Mayor Keith London Introduced Lobbyist To Gaming Company Executives

While the average citizen may think lobbyists introduce politicians to their special interest clients, sworn testimony shows Hallandale Beach Keith London introduced his lobbyist ally Evan Ross to Gulfstream Park Casino executives. As REDBROWARD reported, London and Ross gave sworn testimony to the Broward State Attorney’s Office in early 2017. Their testimony was part of the State Attorney’s Office investigation of former Hallandale Beach Vice Mayor Bill Julian. The probe started after London and Ross leaked recordings of Julian to a local television station. The Broward State Attorney believed Julian was the victim of a political dirty trick and cleared him of any wrongdoing.

In his February 20, 2017 sworn testimony Keith London said Evan Ross was “helping” him with a Diplomat Hotel development project at the time the Julian recordings were made. London said he was not paying him. Asked how Ross was helping, London testified, “By exposing Bill Julian’s–exposing Bill Julian to be the patsy that he is, and the guy that really didn’t care about the city and just was there to be Joy Cooper’s lap dog.”

London explained he met Evan Ross in 2014 at a campaign event for Florida House Representative Joe Geller. “Evan was helping his campaign,” London said. Schulson asked what triggered Ross’ interest in Hallandale Beach.

“We became friendly in 2014 after we met at the Joe Geller event,” London said.

Soon after their meeting, Evan Ross became involved in Hallandale Beach politics although London could not tell when Ross started coming to meetings.

LONDON INTRODUCED ROSS TO GAMING INDUSTRY BIGWIGS

In his March 2017 sworn testimony, Evan Ross gives a more detailed version of how his relationship with Keith London began.

Ross told Assistant State Attorney David Schulson he worked on Joe Geller’s 2014 campaign for the Florida House. Ross could not recall if he was paid by the Geller campaign. “He may have paid me, but if he did, I don’t think it was anything of note,” Ross said. “[B]ecause Joe is somebody I’m very close to, and I told him to save the money for things he needed, and if there was anything left over at the end, I’d be happy to be paid.”

Ross confirmed he met Keith London at a Joe Geller fundraiser in North Miami Beach in 2014. Ross said he gave London advice during his 2014 Hallandale Beach campaign, but he “didn’t play a major role”in London’s campaign.

Ross said he became friends with London. “We enjoyed bouncing ideas off of each other and developed a friendship,” Ross testified. He testified London introduced him to Commissioner Michele Lazarow to discuss supporting Joe Geller.

Ross said he began attending Hallandale Beach City Commission meetings in 2014.

Schulson asked Ross if, prior to meeting Keith London, he had any affiliation to Gulfstream Park. Ross said his grandfather worked in the admissions department for twenty-five years.

Schulson asked Ross about the people Keith London introduced to him. “I believe the first person that Keith introduced me to a Gulfstream was Alon Ossip,” Ross said. “He is the CEO of The Stronach Group, which is Gulfstream’s parent company.” Ross said he met Ossip at a community meeting hosted by Keith London at a Gulfstream Park restaurant in 2016. Ross said it was the first time he met anyone involved with Gulfstream Park.

Ross said he met Michael Fucheck, Gulfstream Park general counsel, at a City Commission meeting.

Asked about his relationship with Alon Ossip, Ross testified, “We developed a relationship. We stayed in some level of communication.”

Schulson asked if Ross discussed forming political action committees (PAC) with Ossip. Ross said he discussed Hallandale Beach politics with Ossip. Ross said, “[Ossip] was not the person that I dealt with when it came to discussing money, generally for campaigns.”

Ross said discussions about the PAC were with Michael Fucheck and Tim Ritvo, the COO of The Stronach Group. Ross said he helped form the Ethics Matter political committee which ended up “being involved exclusively was [sic] issues surrounding Hallandale Beach.”

Ross said, “Gulfstream funded that PAC almost exclusively.”

Asked why Gulfstream funded the Ethics Matter PAC, Ross said, “Gulfstream felt very strongly that they were not being treated fairly by the City Of Hallandale Beach, that they were being almost extorted by the city and they wanted to see a change in the way that the city was run.” Ross said Gulfstream contributed $75,000 to his political committee.

Ross said Gulfstream made contributions to other political committees he created including Public Service, Good Government, Citizens For Public Service and Progressive Principles.

When asked to describe Keith London’s relationship with Gulfstream, Ross said, “Commissioner London…had a reasonable view of the issues and just wanted to treat Gulfstream fairly.”

GULFSTREAM BACKED PAC FUNDED LONDON ALLIES

REDBROWARD previously exposed Ross’ role in shadowy political committees funded by gaming interests in Hallandale Beach.

According to April 2016 campaign treasurer reports, Lazarow received $3,000 from the Village At Gulfstream Park, Gulfstream Park and Orchid Concessions. Taub received the same exact contributions in September 2016.

In October, Michele Lazarow and Anabelle Taub recorded large contributions from out of state gaming interests.

Just days before the November election, Michele Lazarow and Anabelle Taub received maximum contributions of $1,000 from several political committees created by Evan Ross. On October 31, Lazarow received a $1,000 contribution from each of the following committees: Good Government, Public Service, and Progressive Principles.

On November 3, Anabelle Taub received $1,000 contributions from Good Government, Public Service, Progressive Principles.

Lazarow and Taub also received $1,000 each from the Ethics Matter political committee.

In a November 5, 2016 “Dirtiest Election In Broward County“ editorial, Evan Ross told the Sun-Sentinel that Gulfstream wanted to work with Hallandale Beach. “[T]hey just don’t want to be strong-armed into giving it away or pressured into getting a deal done in an unreasonable amount of time,” Ross said. He declared a deal could be reached within 12 months if Michele Lazarow and Anabelle Taub won the election.

In his sworn testimony, Evan Ross said Keith London was Anabelle Taub’s campaign manager.

Hallandale Beach Mayor Keith London Gave Lobbyist “Green Light” To Leak Recording Of Bill Julian To Reporter

In August 2016, WPLG Local 10 investigative reporter Bob Norman broadcast a political bombshell. Norman reported Hallandale Beach Commissioner Bill Julian made a recording admitting to take bribes from a local developer. According the Channel 10 story, Bill Julian called a number associated with a robo-call attacking him.

On one of Julian’s calls, he apparently failed to hang up his phone and inadvertently left behind an audio recording of a private conversation. Local 10 News obtained a copy of the recording, which appears to contain damning admissions from Julian. It begins with Julian explaining his vote against the park.

Hallandale Beach Commissioner Keith London, a staunch foe of Julian, was outraged. He called for an immediate investigation by the Broward State Attoney’s Office. London told Bob Norman, “It certainly sounds like a bribe. Bill Julian, on your audio recording, certainly sounds to me like he’s admitting taking a bribe for two things — 300 campaign workers and a van.”

Just one problem. London learned about the Julian recording five months earlier. And even though he believed a crime may have been committed, Keith London never contacted law enforcement.

Why? Politics.

LONDON GIVES SWORN TESTIMONY TO BROWARD STATE ATTORNEY

In October 2017, Bill Julian was cleared by the Broward State Attorney’s Office. The Sun-Sentinel reported, “‘There is absolutely no evidence that Commissioner Julian ever received any improper payment or benefit of any kind’ from the developer or his attorney, Assistant State Attorney David Schulson says in a memo dated Oct. 23.” But the damage had been done. Bill Julian lost his seat in the November 2016 to political newcomer Anabelle Taub.

On February 20, 2017, Commissioner Keith London, accompanied by his attorney David Di Pietro, spoke under oath with Assistant State Attorney David Schulson. In his sworn testimony, London states he made a “politically expedient” decision to keep the Bill Julian recording a secret until after the August 2016 primaries.

Keith London admitted learning of the recording from lobbyist Evan Ross shortly after the robo-call was made on March 3, 2016. When asked why he did not take action in March 2016 London said, “Because it would have gotten buried and instead it was a news conference and Bob Norman made a great story. After Bob Norman, now it’s front page news.” London stated Evan Ross gave the recording to Bob Norman.

Schulson asked if there was a “strategic meeting with Evan Ross, as to when he should turn it over to Bob Norman?” London replied, “Correct.” London said he gave Ross the “green light” to release recording to Norman after the August 2016 primary.

When asked why they chose Norman, London testified, “Bob loves Hallandale.”

London stated they never considered any other reporter.

EVAN ROSS GIVES SWORN STATEMENT TO BROWARD STATE ATTORNEY

On March 3, 2017, lobbyist Evan Ross testified under oath to Assistant State Attorney David Schulson. Ross testified for more than two hours to details surrounding his relationship with Hallandale Beach Commissioners Keith London and Michele Lazarow, his political committees funded by Gulfstream Park, his robo-call targeting former Commissioner Bill Julian and the recordings of Julian as well as the decision to release the recordings to WPLG reporter Bob Norman. As REDBROWARD previously reported, numerous PACs operated by Evan Ross have supported Hallandale Beach Commissioners London, Lazarow and Anabelle Taub.

When asked who came up with idea to attack Bill Julian with the robo-call, Evan Ross testified, ” I had the discussion–I know I had it with Commissioner London. I believe I may have shared it with Commissioner Lazarow….But it was primarily with Commissioner London.” Ross stated he wrote the script for the call and shared it with Commissioner London.

The night the robo-call went out, Ross noticed there was a voicemail in “the system.” When he listened to the call, he “quickly identified it was Bill Julian’s voice talking to someone.” The following day, Ross claimed he found more voicemails. He testified he noticed the calls came from a “particular phone number that I saw repeatedly.”

Evan Ross stated he told Commissioner Keith London about the Julian recordings the same day he discovered them.

Ross testified he “advised Commissioner London and Commissioner Lazarow…to come to my home and told them that I felt it was of great importance.” Both Commissioners came to Ross’ house. Once there, he played ten recordings of Bill Julian.

Even though Ross says they were in “utter shock,” the three agreed not to do anything with the recordings. Ross stated, “[W]e all agreed that we should not make a decision on what to do with it sight unseen. And that we should take a little time.”

Ross said, “Discussion ensued primarily with Commissioner London and I, where I came up with the idea to ultimately turn the tape over to Bob Norman.” He said they would wait until late July or early August before giving recording to Norman.

Assistant State Attorney Schulson asked, “So you, on your own and through your discussions with Commissioner London, made a strategic political decision to hold onto this recorded conversation…until after qualifying in June of 2016?”

Ross tried to claim London left the ultimate decision to release up to him. Schulson asked if would surprise Ross if Commissioner London testified under oath that London was the one who gave the “green light” to release tape to Bob Norman? Ross simply said, “Oh, we certainly discussed it.”

When asked if he would have released it if Keith London instructed him not to, Ross said, “I certainly would have listened.”

POLITICAL DIRTY TRICK?

Even both claim they suspected a crime had been committed, Keith London and Evan Ross admitted they made a political decision to withhold the Julian recordings. They admitted they wanted to make sure the story affected the November 2016 election. Under oath, Evan Ross said Keith London was the unpaid campaign manager of Bill Julian’s opponent. More to come…

Meet The Guy Behind Hallandale Beach’s Mysterious Pro-Gaming PAC

Meet Michael Hall of Texas. He’s the guy behind the Ethics Matter political committee which supported pro-gaming politicians in Hallandale Beach. More to come…