Huge Contributions Funneled Through Maze Of Broward Political Committees On Way To Help Nikki Fried Campaign, PAC

Nikki Fried

Hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions passed through a maze of shadowy Broward political committees before ending up in the Nikki Fried campaign and a related political committee, records show. In her first campaign treasurer’s report for her gubernatorial bid, Nikki Fried collected $40,000 from this maze of Fort Lauderdale political committees. While this amount reflects just ten percent of her contributions, the maze made its biggest contributions to Fried’s political committee.

In 2018, Nikki Fried opened the “Florida Consumers First” political committee. Fried leveraged her position as the State’s top elected Democrat to raise money for her party and candidates. In September 2020 Fried told donors, “If we want a government that offers transparency and leadership, we need to elect Democrats up and down the ballot. That’s why every dollar you donate to me this month goes to support Democratic candidates in the coming election.” One month later, Florida Consumers First paid a $1,600 fine to the State of Florida for failing to report its fundraising activities.

According to its June 2021 campaign treasurer’s report, nearly half the money raised by Fried’s Florida Consumers First political committee came from a network of PACs located in Fort Lauderdale, Tallahassee and Tampa.

In June, five committees using the same Fort Lauderdale post office box made contributions to Florida Consumers First. Putting Community First made a $1,000 contribution to Florida Consumers First. Comite Politico made a $16,750 contribution to Florida Consumers First and a $3,000 contribution to the Nikki Fried campaign. Democratic Services Network made a $25,000 contribution to Florida Consumers First and a $3,000 contribution to the Nikki Fried campaign. Mothers Stand Together PC made a $20,000 contribution to Florida Consumers First and $3,000 to the Nikki Fried campaign. Winning Florida gave an $11,000 contribution to Florida Consumers First and $3,000 to the Nikki Fried campaign.

State records show these political committees were formed by Haber Blank, a Fort Lauderdale law firm.

Five Tampa-based political committees made contributions to Florida Consumers First in June.

The Alliance for Florida Seniors gave $7,750 to Florida Consumers First. Democratic Action Network gave $22,500 to Florida Consumers First. Equal Rights Action Fund gave 15,500 to Florida Consumers First. Tampa Action Fund gave $19,500 to Florida Consumers First and Urban Action Fund gave $15,500 to Florida Consumers First. All five committees gave $3,000 each to the Nikki Fried campaign.

Fighting For Florida Jobs, a Tallahassee-based committee, gave $13,500 to Florida Consumers First. This committee gave $3,000 to the Nikki Fried campaign.

In June, Florida Consumers First reported $15,000 in contributions from the Public Service committee. As REDBROWARD previously reported, Public Service is a political committee controlled by Evan Ross of Hallandale Beach infamy.

While contributions from fifteen political committees in a month may be commonplace in modern elections, a review of campaign reports shows these political committees repeatedly shifting money amongst themselves before the funds end up with the Nikki Fried political committee.

THE MAZE

A review of 2021 campaign reports show the various committees made contributions to related committees before those committees made donations to Nikki Fried and Florida Consumers First. Often, a political committee will receive a contribution from a related committee then immediately make a contribution to another related political committee. This process makes it very difficult to pinpoint the original source of the money.

In June 2021, the Fort Lauderdale-based Mothers Standing Together PC received contributions from four political committees. It received $7,500 from Business of Florida and $3,500 from Our Future Now. Both entities use the same North Franklin Street address in Tampa. But the real money came in from Tallahassee.

Mothers Standing Together received $70,000 from Floridians For Economic Advancement on North Monroe Street In Tallahassee. It received $30,000 from Fighting For Florida Jobs of Tallahassee. This is the same political committee which gave $13,500 directly to Florida Consumers First.

After receiving these large contributions, Mothers Standing Together PC gave $1,000 to the Miami First committee, $15,000 to Winning Florida and $20,000 to Democratic Services Network.

Two days after receiving these contributions, Winning Florida and Democratic Services Network made contributions to Florida Consumers First and Nikki Fried. Winning Florida gave $11,000 to Florida Consumers First and $3,000 to Fried. Democratic Services Network gave $25,000 to Florida Consumers First and $3,000 to the Fried campaign.

Mothers Standing Together, Winning Florida and Democratic Services Network were created by the same Fort Lauderdale law firm.

In addition to its contribution to Mothers Standing Together, the Business of Florida gave $12,472 to Fighting For Florida Jobs of Tallahassee. Its Tampa twin, Our Future Now gave contributions to Florida Consumers First, Mothers Standing Together and another Tampa political committee called Downtown Development Alliance.

On June 29, 2021 Downtown Development Alliance picked up a $2,700.74 contribution from Our Future Now. That same day, Downtown Development Alliance received a $17,500 contribution from Mothers Standing Together, $15,000 from Democratic Action Network and $7,500 from Alliance Of Florida Seniors.

One day later, Downtown Development Alliance gave $8,000 to Equal Rights Action Fund, $16,500 to Florida Consumers First and $3,000 to the Nikki Fried campaign.

In June, the Democratic Action Network received contributions from three political committees. It received $80,000 from Floridians For Economic Advancement, $12,500 from Comite Politico and $2,000 from Urban Action Fund.

Just two days earlier, Democratic Action Network made a $20,000 contribution to Urban Action Fund. In addition to the $15,000 to the Downtown Development Alliance, Democratic Action Network gave $20,000 to Fighting For Florida Jobs, $7,500 to Democratic Services Network and $12,500 to the Alliance For Florida Seniors.

On June 30, 2021, Democratic Action Network gave $22,500 to Florida Consumers First and $3,000 to the Nikki Fried campaign.

Throughout the first half of 2021, Florida Consumers First picked up big contributions from the Fort Lauderdale political committees. This includes $138,500 from Equal Justice PC, $20,000 from Voters For Truth, $53,000 from Actions Matter, $8,000 from Empower Florida, $10,000 from Floridians For Veterans Service, $6,500 from Putting Voters First and $16,000 from the South Florida Accountability Project.

Confused yet?

Sadly, that may be the point. And this is just a sample of the contributions and expenditures making its way to Florida Consumers First and the Fried campaign.

Why would these distinct committees share contributions amongst themselves?

Is someone coordinating this process?

Surely, Florida voters deserve straight talk and transparency from its Commissioner of Agriculture, right Ms. Fried?

Anabelle Lima Taub Wins Hallandale Beach Hand Recount

After the hand recount on Thursday, Hallandale Beach Commissioner Anabelle Lima Taub maintained her lead over challenger Cynthia Cabrera. It took dozens of workers about an hour to sort through more than 14,000 ballots cast in the Seat 3 race. Cabrera picked up just one vote.

Despite being a political newcomer, Cynthia Cabrera had an army of lobbyists and elected officials observing the recount. Lobbyist Evan Ross appeared to coordinate the volunteer forces which included Hallandale Beach Commissioner Michele Lazarow, disgraced former Broward County Commissioner Scott Cowan and State Representative Joe Geller. Cabrera told the Broward canvassing board that Geller was her legal representative.

Lima Taub was represented by attorney Barbara Stern.

Michele Lazarow and Scott Cowan

Cynthia Cabrera Denies Alliance With Hallandale Beach Commissioner Michele Lazarow & Lobbyist, Social Media/Videos Say Otherwise

In an interview with REDBROWARD, Hallandale Beach Commission candidate Cynthia Cabrera denied an alliance with Commissioner Michele Lazarow, controversial lobbyists and former Mayor Keith London (D-Ponytail). Earlier this month, the Good Government political committee, operated by Ross, began a vicious smear campaign against current Hallandale Beach Commissioner Anabelle Lima Taub. Cabrera is running against Taub. The mailers from Ross’ featured a picture of Cynthia Cabrera.

In addition to the mailers, Ross has taunted Lima Taub on Twitter with unseemly references to her husband and even her dogs. When asked about the personal attacks, Cabrera claimed to be unaware. She told REDBROWARD that she met Ross twice but never discussed her campaign. Cabrera admitted Keith London contacted her but that the substance of their conversation was “not relevant.”

Cynthia Cabrera said Michele Lazarow “gives out my flyers.” When asked why Ross, a staunch Lazarow supporter, would attack her opponent and include her picture on flyer, Cabrera feigned ignorance. Then she said, ” [Ross] is not supporting my campaign, he’s trying to get rid of [Anabelle Lima Taub].

In 2018, REDBROWARD exposed the crucial role Ross and London played political smear campaign into former Hallandale Beach Commissioner Bill Julian.

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.

Who was Bill Julian’s opponent? Anabelle Lima Taub.

After a short time on the commission, Lima Taub broke with Lazarow, London and Ross. The break would explain their motivation to attack Lima Taub.

CABRERA & LAZAROW WORKING TOGETHER

Despite her denials, Cynthia Cabrera’s own social media posts reveal her close working relationship with Commissioner Michele Lazarow. In numerous Facebook posts, Cabrera and Lazarow are pictured driving to campaign events or meeting with local residents.

One day after our interview with her, a Hallandale Beach resident recorded Cabrera exiting Lazarow’s vehicle after arriving at the early polling location.

Why did Cabrera deny a relationship with Lazarow? Should voters believe her denials about working with Evan Ross and Keith London?