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.”
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.