Broward Mayor Dale Holness’ Campaign Team Tied To Mysterious “People Over Principle PAC”

People Of Principle PAC

Broward Mayor Dale Holness’ campaign team appears to be behind a mysterious federal political committee backing mostly black candidates. Records show Holness’ longtime campaign marketing guru Omar Smith is tied to the “People Over Principle PAC.” These same records show the committee has failed report any money contributions or expenditures as required by law.

Federal Election Commission (FEC) records show People of Principle PAC was created by Charmalin Brown in January 2019. Brown used the address of a Margate UPS store as the headquarters for the political committee. In April 2019, Charmalin Brown purchased the domain name currently used by People Of Principle PAC.

State corporation records show Charmalin Brown, a tax preparer, started a business in 2006 using Omar Smith as her registered agent. Brown used a home on the 300 block of Berenger Walk in Royal Palm Beach as her business address. Numerous records show Omar Smith uses the same Berenger Walk address.

Federal records show People of Principle PAC has never reported its financial information. The FEC sent “failure to file” notices on August 15, 2019, February 19, 2020 and May 1, 2020 to the committee.

In addition to costs used to purchase domain and rent a mailbox at the Margate UPS Store, People Of Principle PAC is spending money on advertisements promoting Broward candidates.

BLACK COMMUNITY EMPOWERMENT

In June 2020, People of Principle PAC purchased a full page advertisement in a Sun-Sentinel insert. The back cover of “Legacy” magazine, an “independent supplement by MIA Media & Communications Group to the Sun Sentinel,” featured an ad entitled “Black Community Empowerment.” The advertisement was a typical campaign palm card instructing voters to support Black Democrat candidates.

Candidates on the card included Congressman Alcee Hastings, Broward School Board Member Rosalind Osgood, Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony, Clerk of the Courts Brenda Forman, Judge Vegina Hawkins, Public Defender candidate Gordon Weekes and Broward Mayor Dale Holness.

Within the last week, the People of Principle PAC sent a similar message to Broward voters. Democrats across the county received a “your vote your voice” mailer touting Broward Mayor Dale Holness, Congressman Alcee Hastings and other black candidates. Even though the mailer states “#BlackVotesMatter” and “#BlackExcellence,” the piece includes several white candidates such as Judge Frank Ledee, Judge Patti Englander Henning and Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz.

While People of Principle PAC does not show who paid for the advertisements or how much they cost, Broward Mayor Dale Holness has been dutifully reporting his campaign finances to the Broward Supervisor of Elections Office. Holness’ records show his 2020 re-election campaign paid more than $34,000 to Omar Smith or companies associated with Smith.

Records show Dale Holness’ campaign paid $31,100 to A Star For I, Inc a company owned by Omar Smith. The campaign paid $4,100 to Flyer Smith, another company owned by Smith. SA Nelson and Associates received a $6,000 payment from Dale Holness’ campaign. According to their website, Omar Smith is “The Date Prince” at SA Nelson.

Of course, People of Principle PAC would not be the first shady political committee tied to Omar Smith and Dale Holness.

A Better Florida For All?

In January 2018, REDBROWARD exposed the roles Omar Smith and County Commissioner Dale Holness played in Dean Trantalis’ Fort Lauderdale Mayoral campaign.

December 2017 City of Fort Lauderdale campaign records show Dean Trantalis’ mayoral campaign hired Sophia Nelson, another consultant tied to County Commissioner Dale Holness. On December 13th, Trantalis paid $1,357 to SA Nelson And Associates for “marketing.” According to Florida business records, SA Nelson and Associates is owned by Sophia A. Nelson.

Florida Division Of Elections records show Sophia A. Nelson is the chairperson of the “A Better Florida For All” political committee. The address for this political committee is the same address found on a December pro-Trantalis email sent to Fort Lauderdale voters by “FlyerSmith.”

Division of Elections records show Omar Smith is the treasurer of the “A Better Florida For All” political committee.

On December 7, 2017 A Better Florida For All hosted a fundraiser for Dean Trantalis. According to an announcement posted on the group’s Facebook page, the A Better Florida For All event was being held at 4325 West Sunrise Boulevard in Plantation. This is the address for All Broward Realty, a company owned by Dale Holness.

In October 2018, Buddy Nevins of Broward Beat reported on four local judicial candidates appearing the endorsement card produced by A Better Florida For All. The card promoted Democrat candidates most notably Andrew Gillum. Nevins wrote, “Four Broward lawyers running for judge could end up in trouble for appearing to violate state Code of Ethics for judicial candidates. Partisan appeals judicial candidates’ ads are forbidden by the Florida Supreme Court Code of Judicial Conduct. Joint advertising by judicial candidates is also prohibited.”

Omar Smith talked to the Sun-Sentinel about the palm card controversy. Smith “insisted this week that none of the candidates were picked because of financial ties to the political action committee or to any of Smith’s businesses, which perform campaign services.”

Shortly thereafter, the State of Florida revoked the registration of A Better Florida For All. Smith failed to properly submit paper to the Florida Division Of Elections. Attempts to contact Smith failed.

Since the committee is no longer a legal entity, legal steps were made to keep the card from being distributed to voters.

In November, Omar Smith made national headlines when Project Veritas showed undercover video of him calling Florida a “cracker state.” Smith was working for the Andrew Gillum campaign.

While some Gillum supporters claimed Omar Smith did not work for the campaign, financial records show otherwise. According to Florida Division of Elections records, the Andrew Gillum campaign paid Smith’s company, FlyerSmith, $50,000 in August 2018.

Also, the Project Veritas video appears to have been recorded inside Dale Holness’ real estate office in Plantation.

Our Conversation With Omar Smith

REDBROWARD called the telephone number listed on the People Of Principle PAC website. Omar Smith answered the telephone.

When asked why the committee did not file the legally required financial reports, Smith said, “Uh…not the treasurer. I just happened to answer the phone.” Smith would not reveal where the committee office was located. He said he has nothing to do with the People of Principle PAC. But he did admit to being behind the A Better Florida For All Committee.

When asked why he was in the People Of Principle offices, Smith said he was asked to answer the telephones. Smith would not say who asked him to answer the telephone calls.

Smith would not reveal if he works for any other candidates, besides Dale Holness, appearing on the People of Principle PAC materials.

Asked about any work for the People of Principle PAC, Smith said he “gave up the website” as an in-kind contribution. Smith would not reveal who he gave control over to.

When asked why he would not answer simple questions about his role or Dale Holness’ role in these materials, Smith said the People Of Principle PAC has “nothing to do with Mr. Holness.”

Given his questionable track record, why would local candidates allow themselves to be featured on mailers and websites controlled by Omar Smith?

Didn’t Gordon Weekes do his homework?

Why didn’t Sheriff Gregory Tony “google” Omar Smith?

Shouldn’t Judges Francois, Henning, Ledee and Hawkins be a bit careful after the 2018 A Better Florida For All Mess?

Will Dale Holness and the other candidates claim ignorance to how they ended up on the People For Principle PAC materials?

Will anyone address the “pay for play” rumors swirling around the pieces?

A Better Florida For All was a State of Florida political committee. It’s governed by a toothless Tallahassee board that levies fines.

A People Of Principle PAC is a Federal political committee. The FEC enforcement wing may have a bit more bite.

“DECEPTION.” Local Officials Bash Team Dale Holness’ “Black Votes Matter” Card

Image posted by Broward School Board Member Rosalind Osgood

Local leaders and candidates take to social media to bash the “Black Votes Matter” card produced by a shady political committee tied to Broward Mayor Dale Holness’ longtime campaign marketing guru, Omar Smith. Last week, REDBROWARD revealed Smith was tied to “People of Principle PAC,” a federal political committee. When we contacted the PAC at the number on their website, Omar Smith answered the telephone.

When a voter confronted Dale Holness at his fundraiser at a packed Lauderhill restaurant, stacks of the “Black Votes Matter” card were displayed next to Holness’ campaign materials and donation envelopes.

Ever since the controversial card hit mailboxes last week, voters and elected officials have criticized it.

Broward County Commissioner Barbara Sharief blasted the card in a Facebook post. Sharief wrote:

Mailers like these deceive the voters and contribute to loosing[sic] elections. While I like many of the candidates on these cards at first glance it would appear they came from a legitimate organization but they are not. Also lots of races left off…People do your homework know who you are voting for and why?

In a reply to a comment, Sharief wrote the card “may be a county-wide coordinated deception.”

Broward Supervisor of Elections candidate Mitch Ceasar thanked Sharief for bringing this “deception” to light. “This is why people don’t trust government,” Ceasar wrote.

Broward School Board Member Rosalind Osgood wrote the card drew the ire of local religious leaders. She wrote, “Pastor Derrick Hughes call these cards out earlier this week. This card is NOT from the Black Community.” Osgood appears on the card.

West Park Vice-Mayor Brian C. Johnson, a FL House 101 candidate, joined in the attack. Johnson wrote:

Both of those cards were produced by well known political pimps who get paid to produce pamphlets like these in their efforts to give bad candidates false credibility by presenting them with popular candidates and lovable figures. Both of these cards ultimately seek to get a very specific group of people who paid to be there elected—everyone else are just props. There are some quality candidates on both cards who played no role in the schemes. But the lack of integrity by the makers and the sinister deception they are trying to benefit from make both of those cards immediate trash in my house. I pray that not a single voter is fooled by them.

In a separate Facebook post, Jennifer Perelman, bashed the appearance of her opponent, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-Out Of Touch), on the card.

Perelman wrote:

That’s laughable. So they’re endorsing a candidate who takes the second highest amount of money from police PACs as the best person to represent the black community. Talk about encouraging people to vote against their own interests. When you have a community ravaged by injustice and poverty, maybe you shouldn’t keep electing the same corporate tools that profit from that disenfranchisement. What a joke.”

When will someone ask Broward Dale Holness about his views on the card?

Wonder if the Sun-Sentinel mentioned it when they endorsed Dale Holness last week?

Black Votes Matter Card Displayed At Dale Holness Fundraiser

Help Me Howard? Chief Asst Broward Public Defender Got Slap On Wrist For Telling Female Prosecutor “I Want To Put My Fist in The Back Of Your Skull”

Gordon Weekes

On the surface, it appears to be the perfect case for “Help Me Howard,” the popular legal help segment on WSVN Channel 7 News hosted by Broward Public Defender Howard Finkelstein—a dispute at the office leads to a male employee threatening a female employee with disturbing and violent imagery. But this incident did not happen at a South Florida Office. It happened in a Broward County Courthouse when a Chief Assistant Public Defender threatened to “put his fist through the skull” of now-Judge Tabitha Blackmon. What did Howard Finkelstein and Gordon Weekes, his top Executive Chief Assistant do to this guy? They kept him hidden from the public.

On July 27, 2018, Kory Hill, a Chief Assistant Public Defender of the Juvenile Unit (APD), appeared in Judge Elijah Williams courtroom. Assistant State Attorney (ASA) Tabitha Blackmon represented the Broward State Attorney’s Office in the matter involving a juvenile defendant. It was supposed to be an ordinary plea deal hearing in front of Judge Williams. It was anything but ordinary.

An August 7, 2018 complaint filed by the Broward State Attorney’s Office with the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit Professionalism Panel details Hill’s attack on Blackmon:

Kory Hill…got up and advised the court that a statement made by…Tabitha Blackmon was a “fabrication” and that the State would find no evidence for its position. After ASA Blackmon advised the court that that was a bit harsh, APD Hill proceeded to call ASA Blackmon a “Liar” and state that she was “Lying” and that her position was “high unethical” all on the record. ASA Blackmon requested a recess….

During the recess, APD HIll’s verbal accusations escalated and he became enraged. APD Hill exclaimed to ASA Blackmon “You have been practicing long enough, you should know the law!” and yelled at her that she should be “embarrassed.” APD Hill also exclaimed angrily that he was tired of the “State Attorney blowing smoke up the judges’ asses.”

While continuing to yell at ASA Blackmon…[APD Hill] started storming toward her with his fists clenched beside him and yelled right as he walked past her “I want to put my fist through the back of your head” before making a sharp turn and exiting the courtroom. ASA Blackmon was in fear for imminent danger and believed that APD Hill had the ability to carry out his threat to cause her physical harm.

All this was done in front of a 12-year old victim and his family, as well as the defendant and his father, who were there for the plea.

The report states the entire matter was captured by courtroom audio and visual equipment. According to the report, two Broward Sheriff’s Office (BSO) Deputies, a Family Court case manager and another State Attorney witnessed the incident.

Court Baliff Craig Hargrett stated he heard Kory Hill say, “I should punch you in the back of your head!

BSO Deputy Bradley Willard stated he heard Kory Hill say, “I would like to put my fist in the back of your head.”

GORDON WEEKES SAYS ATTACK “NOT PERSONAL”

The severity of the incident was evident by the quick arrival of Gordon Weekes, Howard Finkelstein’s Number Two, on the scene. According to the facts laid out in an August 3, 2018 Florida Bar complaint, Weekes spoke with Tabitha Blackmon, Supervising ASA Linda Berman and APD Hill outside the courtroom. The report states APD Hill “did not deny making the statement, only that he was not close enough when he made the threat to put his fist through the back of ASA Blackmon’s head for it to qualify as an assault.”

After Judge Williams recused himself and the parties left, Weekes and Hill returned to the courtroom. The Bar complaint states, “Weekes gave an apology on behalf of the office and contended that it was not personal, to which ASA Blackmon pointed out the ways in which it was a personal attack.”

The Bar complaint states APD Hill only apologized for his “on the record” remarks until he was made aware his more aggressive remarks and his threat to use his fist were made off the record.

A memorandum written by ASA Linda Berman states she confronted APD Hill outside the courtroom about his aggressive behavior. She wrote APD Hill, “said the statements were made while he was walking away from her and that there was no assault.” Berman wrote, “At no time during my brief conversation with Mr. Hill, did Mr. Weekes make any comments.”

As for APD Hill’ courtroom apology, ASA Berman wrote, “Ms. Blackmon did not accept Mr. Hill’s apology as she felt it was insincere.”

HILL ADMITS PERSONAL ATTACK ON BLACKMON

On September 24, 2018, APD Kory Hill submitted a five page response to the Florida Bar complaint. Hill started with a. apology for his “unprofessional manner” toward ASA Blackmon. Hill wrote, “I agree with most of the allegations” in the Bar complaint. But then, APD Hill tried to give a rationale for his behavior.

APD Hill claimed he objected to ASA Blackmon’s insistence the defendant register as a sexual offender as part of the plea deal. The defendant was accused of violently sodomizing the twelve year old victim. Then, APD Hill admitted to making a personal attack on ASA Blackmon.

APD Hill told the Florida Bar, “In frustration, I said that Ms. Blackmon was trying to become a judge without knowing the law.” In a footnote, Hill states knowing “Ms. Blackmon was pursuing her personal ambition to become a judge and she had been interviewed by the Judicial Nominating Commission to fill a County Court judicial vacancy.”

APD Hill wrote, “Ms. Blackmon was offended by my comment regarding her legal qualification to be judge.”

Then, APD Hill laid out his defense against a criminal charge. He stated he “immediately folded my hands, placed my folded hands behind my neck, and started to walk out of the courtroom.” APD Hill clearly tried to minimize his physical threat but then he admitted to what he said to Blackmon.

“You make me so angry,” APD Hill wrote. “I want to put my fist in the back of your skull.”

APD Hill told the Bar he immediately returned to courtroom to apologize to ASA Blackmon. Yet, a supposedly contrite APD Hill told the Bar, Blackmon did not accept his apology and she was not crying until he returned to the courtroom.

In a footnote, APD Hill wrote a probation officer told him “she thought Ms.Blackmon was crying to make a show.”

After repeated attempts to undermine ASA Blackmon’s version of the incident, APD Hill tries to garner sympathy. APD Hill claimed he was suffering from anxiety and seeking therapy. APD Hill stated he was taking psychotropic medication as well. After the incident, APD Hill told the Bar he enrolled in anger management classes.

Chief Assistant State Attorney Jeff Marcus took exception to APD Kory Hill’s response to the Florida Bar. In an email to a Nova Southeastern University law professor, Marcus wrote he was “highly offended” by Hill’s “threat of physical violence against Blackmon. Marcus wrote, “Mr. Hill’s response to the Bar complaint, to say the least, was not well received by me. Mr. Hill stated that, in part, ‘Ms. Blackmon’s sworn statement is not true’ and that she was ‘crying to make a show.’ When a lawyer says that a sworn statement is not true, that is accusing someone of perjury. This demonstrated to me his recurring poor judgment by continuing to belittle and bully Ms. Blackmon

Chief ASA Jeff Marcus raised the same issues in an October 2018 to the Bar.

On February 27, 2019, The Florida Bar forwarded the Kory Hill complaint to the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit Grievance Committee “G” for further action.

On August 16, 2019, The Florida Bar informed the Broward State Attorney the Bar “has recommended and [Hill] has agreed to participate in a practice and professionalism enhancement program.” Basically, the Bar gave Hill a slap on the wrist by forcing him to attend a “Professional Workshop.”

The Grievance Committee stated its decision was based upon this being a first offense. The Committee took into account Hill’s seeking of professional treatment from “mental health professionals since 2005.”

While the Florida Bar is famous for its leniency in matters involving lawyers, surely two Democrat politicians, in the era of the “me too” movement, would show Kory Hill the door, right?

Nope. Help Me Howard Finkelstein and his annointed successor Gordon Weekes simply reassigned Kory Hill to a desk job outside the public view.

Tabitha Blackmon was clearly the victim in this matter. No man, no woman, should be subject to threats of violence in the workplace. But what message does it send to all the employees of the Public Defenders Office, and the State Attorney’s Office, all the lawyers, judicial assistants, court reporters and bailiffs, when a serious matter like this is swept under the rug?

Now, Gordon Weekes wants to replace Help Me Howard Finkelstein. What will he do with Kory Hill if he wins next week’s election? Courthouse insiders tell REDBROWARD that Weekes and Hill are friends. Would Broward Public Defender Gordon Weekes bring back Kory Hill from his exile at the jail?

As for Tabitha Blackmon, she may not have received justice but she did get the last laugh.

On June 24, 2020, Governor Ron DeSantis announced the appointment of Tabitha Blackmon to the Broward County Court. Blackmon, of Fort Lauderdale, has been a prosecutor for the State Attorney’s Office since 2017. She previously served as an attorney for the Attorney General’s Office. She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida and her law degree from the University of Florida College of Law.