Ah, irony? TGIF!
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.
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.
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….
Thanks to a no-bid contract from Broward Supervisor of Elections (SOE) Office, Tamarac Commissioner Elberg Mike Gelin may pocket a huge commission check for work performed by another insurance benefits company. In March, newly-elected Supervisor of Elections Joe Scott signed a contract with Gelin Benefits Group, Inc. to provide insurance benefits services to SOE employees. Elberg Mike Gelin created Gelin Benefits Group in 2015.
Under the no-bid contract Gelin Benefits Group would act as the “service provider” for the insurance benefits policy between the Broward Supervisor Of Elections Office and United Healthcare Services (UHS). The deal would pay Gelin Benefits Group a commission equivalent to 6.83% of the medical premium paid to United Healthcare Services. Elberg Mike Gelin signed the contract on February 16, 2021.
According to a source, the previous Broward SOE service provider submitted the 2021 insurance information to United Healthcare Services in December 2020. At some point between February 16, 2021 and March 10, 2021 (when Joe Scott signed the contract) United Healthcare Services recognized Gelin Benefits Group as the sole service provider for Broward SOE. Even though Gelin Benefits Group played no role in the crafting of the current policy, United Healthcare Services would pay the 2021 commission to Gelin’s company.
The source told REDBROWARD that Gelin Benefits Group would do nothing more provide information and guidance to Broward SOE employees during the 2021 calendar year.
The source claimed former Broward Supervisor of Elections Peter Antonacci was happy with the work of previous service provider but he wanted Scott to have a say in the matter. The source said Joe Scott never met or even talked to the previous service provider.
When asked by REDBROWARD about changing service providers, Joe Scott said, “My team wasn’t happy with the previous vendor and Gelin Benefits Group has a great reputation and my staff is very happy with the change.”
Scott said Gelin Benefits Group recently hosted a “health fair” for SOE employees.
As to why he didn’t seek proposals for the contract, Scott said, “Going out to bid is not always necessary to get the best deal. Our office has ongoing needs from our benefits provider. Some treat the relationship as if it was only about setting up the benefits package. Gelin works with us on an ongoing basis.”
Scott claimed the previous service provider “didn’t have adequate customer service.”
REDBROWARD asked Joe Scott how he became aware of Gelin Benefits Group.
“Gelin is really good at what they do,” Scott said. “The company is very well known in my community.” Scott would not elaborate on what he means by “my community.”
When asked if he was concerned the no-bid contract looks like political payback to one of his earliest supporters, Scott said, “I made changes in vendor relationships to improve the organization. It’s pretty typical for losing vendors to be sour. It’s not newsworthy.”
Scott failed to respond to questions regarding discussions with anyone about Gelin Benefits Group.
GELIN BENEFITS GROUP GROWS
While Joe Scott may not think it’s “newsworthy,” taxpayers do have a right to know when an elected official lands big government contracts for his company. Government agencies will put contracts out to bid in order to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest. Here, the Broward SOE deal with Gelin Benefits Groups raises questions about a conflict of interest.
In early 2020, Joe Scott was a political newcomer in a race filled with longtime political insiders like former Broward Democrat Party Chairman Mitch Ceasar and former Broward School Board Member Jennifer Gottlieb. Some of Joe Scott’s earliest supporters were members of Team Dale Holness. In January 2020, Joe Scott received $500 from Happy Feet Advertising. REDBROWARD exposed Happy Feet Advertising’s close ties to Tamarac Commissioner Marlon Bolton. In June 2020, Scott received a contribution from Gelin himself. One month later, Scott received $500 from Forecast Holdings LLC, a company owned by Marlon Bolton. In October 2019, Scott received a contribution from Coral Springs Commissioner Nancy Metayer. Gelin recently revealed Metayer served as his aide on the Tamarac Commisison.
In September 2020, Joe Scott picked up a contribution from Miramar Commissioner Yvette Colburne. Last month, REDBROWARD revealed Gelin Benefits Group received a big new deal from the City of Miramar. Gelin did not disclose this deal when attorneys representing Miramar applied for the City of Tamarac city attorney position.
During the 2020 election, Joe Scott hired Flyer Smith for campaign services. REDBROWARD reported how Flyer Smith owner Omar Smith, Dale Holness’ campaign guru, is repeatedly involved in mysterious political committees supporting Holness and his allies. Last year, The People Of Principle PAC mailers featured Joe Scott alongside Dale Holness.
Did Joe Scott discuss Gelin Benefits Group with any of these supporters?
Is it just a coincidence that an incoming supervisor of elections just happens to know the name of a fairly new company that does business with municipalities?
Is it another coincidence that this obscure company is owned by one of his earliest supporters?
Is it fair that Gelin Benefits Group gets to pocket a commission for work it did not perform?
Is this just another case of crony capitalism? Well-connected friends reaping the rewards of backing the winning candidate?
Don’t Broward taxpayers deserve answers?