Tag Archives: financial disclosure

State Ethics Commission Finds Probable Cause Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness Violated Financial Disclosure Laws Four Times

The Florida Commission on Ethics found probable cause that Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness violated financial disclosure laws set forth by the Florida Constitution and Florida Statutes. The Commission released its findings on Wednesday even though investigators finished their report in September. News of the investigation comes one month after Holness’ stunning defeat in the U.S. Congressional CD 20 Democrat primary.

According to official documents obtained by REDBROWARD, investigators determined there was probable cause that Dale Holness, “Violated Article II, Section 8 Florida Constitution and Section 112.3144 Florida Statutes by failing to disclose income from two corporations he owns and secondary sources of income related to those corporations.” A complaint filed by Richard Giorgio, a representative of a political consulting firm, in July stated Holness failed to make these disclosures on the Form 6 Financial Disclosure document filed with the State in 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019.

While Holness listed American Holding Group and All Broward Realty Inc. as companies he owned, he claimed to derive no income from these businesses. Additionally, Holness claimed to derive no income from his seven rental properties in Broward.

Investigators interviewed Dale Holness who was represented by attorney Hans Ottinot. Earlier this year, REDBROWARD exposed how allies of Holness desperately tried to get Ottinot appointed as the permanent City of Tamarac attorney.

During the interview, Holness “maintained he did not receive any income from either corporation during the years 2016-2019. His income, he explained, comes from his service on the County Commission and is disclosed on his financial disclosure forms.”

Holness admitted to receiving income from the seven rental properties but claimed he thought it did not have to be disclosed since it was “offset by expenses and depreciation.”

Holness stated he filled out the Form 6 documents without assistance from any accountants. He claimed he filed amended disclosure forms in August after calling Tallahassee for clarification of the rules.

The amendments show Holness derived more than $40,000 from rentals of his seven properties.

Despite knowledge of an investigation into his own financial disclosures, Holness had the chutzpah to use the “lack of financial disclosure” argument in a lawsuit seeking to overturn his defeat by political newcomer Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick.

Holness’ case will be set for a public hearing in Tallahassee before the Commission on Ethics board.

Elberg Mike Gelin Says His Paycheck From Insurance Benefits Company Grew Nearly 400% Since Getting Elected To Tamarac Commission

Income from Elberg Mike Gelin’s insurance benefits company increased nearly four hundred percent since becoming a Tamarac Commissioner three years ago, official disclosure forms show. Last month, REDBROWARD reported City of Tamarac lawyers were so concerned over ethical issues raised by the business relationship between Gelin Benefits Group, Inc. and the Broward Sheriff’s Office (BSO), that it asked the State of Florida Commission On Ethics for guidance. On November 27, 2018, Gelin took the oath of office as a Tamarac Commissioner. One week later, Tamarac city attorney Sam Goren asked the Florida Commission On Ethics if a prohibited conflict of interest was created by a company owned by Elberg Mike Gelin having an existing business relationship with BSO. The City of Tamarac has a contract with BSO to provide law enforcement services.

While the Commission On Ethics stated the Gelin Benefits Group’s deal with BSO posed no conflict of interest because it was signed before he was elected, it did highlight the problems faced when an elected official solicits business for a personally owned company from other municipalities and government entities.

The problem becomes even more complicated when an elected official fails to fully disclose business dealings with other government officials.

FULL DISCLOSURE?

Commissioner Elberg Mike Gelin appears to have a problem disclosing his business dealings to Tamarac voters. In June, REDBROWARD reported Gelin failed to disclose all of his government contracts on his required financial forms. Form 1 consists of three parts. Elected officials are required to disclose primary sources of income, secondary sources of income and real property.

Under secondary sources of income, officials are told to include “Major customers, clients and other sources of income to businesses owned by the reporting person.”

Under secondary sources of income on his 2018 Form 1, Commissioner Gelin wrote “N/A” which is shorthand for “not applicable.”

REDBROWARD asked Gelin to clarify why his contract with BSO between February 2018 and February 2019 was “not applicable.” Gelin did not respond.

On his Form 1 for 2019, Gelin listed contracts with the City of Miramar, the City of Lauderdale Lakes and Broward Health (North Broward Health District). Still no mention of a contract with BSO.

Even though he listed just three government agencies on his 2019 Form 1, documents show Gelin Benefits Group previously touted contracts with multiple government agencies.

On January 10, 2019, Gelin Benefits Group submitted a proposal to the City of Lauderdale Lakes. In the proposal, Gelin Benefits Group states it provides services to the City of Miramar and the Broward Sheriff’s Office (BSO).

On August 22, 2019, Gelin Benefits Group submitted a controversial proposal to the City of North Miami. Gelin Benefits Group stated its clients included the City of Miramar, the City of Lauderdale Lakes, Broward Health, Broward Sheriff’s Office, and Broward County Government.

Under “notable client experience,” Gelin listed the City of Miramar, the City of Coconut Creek and the Broward Clerk of Courts.

Under “references,” Gelin Benefits Group listed Miramar, BSO, and Broward County Government.

Last week, Elberg Mike Gelin submitted his 2020 Financial Disclosure Form 1. Once again, Gelin only listed Miramar, Lauderdale Lakes and Broward Health.

Did Gelin Benefits Group lose deals with BSO, the Clerk of Courts and others entities?

While Gelin continues to list the same three clients on his disclosure form, another legally required form appears to show being a Tamarac Commissioner has been very good to Elberg Mike Gelin’s bottom line.

400 PERCENT?

Along with the financial disclosure forms, elected officials are required to reveal any outside or concurrent employment to residents. Since his election in 2018, Elberg Mike Gelin has disclosed outside/concurrent employment for the years 2018, 2019, and 2020. All three forms list Gelin Benefits Group Inc for outside employment.

In addition to the name of employer, the form asks for “remuneration received for the covered year.” For our readers in Margate, this means “how much were you paid during the covered year.” The official simply checks off a range of how much he received from the outside employment.

In 2018, Gelin declared he received between $25,001 and $50,000 from Gelin Benefits Group. Not bad for a company formed just three years earlier.

In 2019, Gelin stated his pay nearly doubled in a year. He declared receiving between $50,001 and $100,000 from Gelin Benefits Group.

Last week, Elberg Mike Gelin filed his 2020 outside/concurrent employment form. While the COVID-19 pandemic hurt numerous small businesses across Broward, things were booming over at Gelin Benefits Group. Now, Gelin claims his remuneration from Gelin Benefits Group exceeds $100,001.

That is a 400 percent pay increase for Elberg Mike Gelin since taking office in Tamarac just three years ago.

Guess the lockdown doesn’t hurt your business when most of your big clients are local governments.

But, if Elberg Mike Gelin received more than $100,000 last year, why did Gelin Benefits Group apply for a PPP loan for its two employees? Records show Gelin Benefits Group received a $34,000 PPP loan in April 2020. These records show $34,370 of the loan was forgiven.

Also, the contracts between local municipalities and Gelin Benefits Group are funded with Broward taxpayers’ hard earned money. Even Gelin Benefits Group’s newest deal with the Broward Supervisor of Elections Office is funded with public dollars.

And Elberg Mike Gelin still picks up a paycheck as a Tamarac Commission. Who pays Gelin’s salary? Yep, Broward taxpayers.

But Elberg Mike Gelin is not the only Broward official getting fat eating off the Broward taxpayer trough….