Judicial Candidate Spamming Judges With Campaign Emails

doreen2In an apparent violation of Florida elections law, Broward County Judges are receiving campaign solicitations from a candidate for Broward County Circuit Court. At least two sitting judges received wordy emails urging them to contribute to the campaign of Doreen Turner Inkeles. Florida Statute 106.15(4) states, “No person shall make and no person shall solicit or knowingly accept any political contribution in a building owned by a governmental entity.”

Inkeles’ email urging up to $1,000 contributions went sent to the judges’ official email accounts. The Broward County Courthouse is owned by a government entity. Florida Statute 106.15(5) states, “Any person violating the provisions of this section commits a misdemeanor of the first degree.”

The Inkeles email is signed by 7 lawyers: Steven Berzner, Deborah Ann Byles, Nancy Brodzki, Mark Abzug, Doreen Yaffa, Joel Feldman and Scott J. Brook. (Yesterday, REDBROWARD reported Brook was all smiles with Lea Krauss, another candidate for Broward County Circuit Court. Brook faced ethics charges for failing to report a free yacht trip provided by the corrupt developers, Shawn and Bruce Chait.)

The long, wordy-email states:

To contribute to her campaign, you can make your check payable to the Doreen Turner Inkeles Campaign(maximum of $1,000.00 per person and/or entity) and send it to the address above. You can also contact Doreendirectly on her mobile phone at 954-729-7890 or by email to ElectDoreenTurnerInkeles@OurFloridaCourts.orgDoreen will be happy to talk with you. Of course, you can also contact any one of us directly anytime to discuss her campaign as well.

Last year, the issue of sending campaign emails to government buildings was raised during the Jacksonville Mayoral race. In February 2014, Mayor Alvin Brown emailed campaign solicitations to government employees and leaders. Jacksonville.com reported Brown’s campaign emailed an urgent fundraising appeal to thousands of people, asking them to “stand with me” by donating “$50, $35 or $10 to my campaign today.”

The emails forced Jerry Holland, the Jacksonville Supervisor of Elections, to investigate the matter. According to Holland, his consultations with the Florida Division of Elections determined email solicitations were illegal.

State law prohibits campaign fundraising on government property, and that would include fundraising sent to government email accounts, Holland said.

Holland said of the Brown campaign’s emails. “It’s a matter of them doing their due diligence and removing the government addresses.”

City Councilman Bill Bishop told Jacksonville.com, “[I]t’s ‘campaign literature 101’ to not send fundraising letters to government email accounts.”

Besides the possible illegality of the campaign contribution solicitation, the email shows TEAM Inkeles may be avid REDBROWARD readers.

NAME GAME NO MORE?

In September, REDBROWARD exposed Inkeles’ attempt to play the name game.

Even though she’s practiced law for years under the name Inkeles, she filed for the Circuit 17 Group 24 seat under the name “Doreen Carol Turner.” Inkeles divorced Dr. Paul Martin Inkeles in 2000.

Since the divorce, she has continued to use the name Inkeles. The Florida Bar lists her license under the name “Doreen Turner Inkeles.” The Bar lists her place of employment as “Beiner Inkeles & Horvitz PA” in Boca Raton. Internet domain records show her website,InkelesLaw.com, was created in 2007, seven years after her divorce.

Property records show Doreen Turner Inkeles purchased a Coconut Creek home in February 2010. The Broward Clerk of Courts lists Doreen Turner Inkeles as representing clients in 2015. The State of Florida says Doreen C. Inkeles is registered to vote in Broward County at her Coconut Creek address.

Even her Facebook page is listed under “Doreen Turner Inkeles.”

In an interview with REDBROWARD last month, Inkeles claimed the name change was meant to help voters. She said voters had a hard time remembering the name “Inkeles.”

Two weeks later, her email blast lists her as “Doreen Turner Inkeles.”

BROWARD FINALLY GETS A SHOUT-OUT FROM CONSULTANT?

Inkeles’ email was crafted by Strategic Technologies & Research, Inc. When readers click “powered by JNAC” at the bottom of the email, they are redirected to the JNACOnline website. The bottom of the JNAC website states “Copyright (c) 2015-2019 – Strategic Technologies & Research, Inc.”

Also, the campaign solicitation lists Inkeles email as”ElectDoreenTurnerInkeles@OurFloridaCourts.org.” Domain records show “OurFloridaCourts.org” is owned by Strategic Technologies & Research, Inc.

According to State of Florida records, the Fort Lauderdale company is owned by consultant Dan Lewis.

In November, JNACOnline and “OurFloridaCourts.org” appeared on emails sent on behalf of Broward County Court candidate Rhoda Sokoloff, Broward Circuit Court Judge Hope Tieman-Bristol and Broward County Judge John “Jay” Hurley.

REDBROWARD reported the Hurley email forgot an important word in his disclaimer: “Broward.”

Sure, the word “Broward” appeared a few times in Hurley’s email solicitation. But in the all important disclaimer, Hurley used “county judge” not “Broward County Judge.”

Perhaps Hurley thought voters don’t need to have simple things spelled out for them, LIKE THE NAME OF THE OFFICE YOU’RE SEEKING!

The disclaimers from Judge Hope Tieman-Bristol and Rhoda Sokolff also lack the word “Broward” in their disclaimers.

Looks like Lewis learned something since our Hurley story. In the Inkeles email, the disclaimer reads, “Political advertisement paid for and approved by Doreen Turner Inkles for Broward Circuit Judge Gr. 24, Non-Partisan.”

At the time of publication, Inkeles and Lewis had not responded to requests for comment.

 

 

Broward Official Threatens Consultant Over Childrens Museum Report

Louise Stevens of ArtsMarket, Inc.
Louise Stevens of ArtsMarket, Inc.

Third in a multi-part investigation

Louise Stevens had made the 2,000 trek from Montana to Fort Lauderdale. Broward County hired the nationally-known arts consultant from ArtsMarket, Inc. to conduct an independent review of the Young At Art (YAA) children’s museum. Stevens came to South Florida to hold a retreat with YAA officials, board members and staff.  After many museums took a financial hit during the 2008 recession, the County wanted to bolster YAA’s business model and fundraising.

As REDBROWARD reported, part of Louise Stevens’ tried and true independent review process included “retreats” with officials and staff of the facility under review.

REDBROWARD obtained a February 18, 2015 email from Louise Stevens to YAA officials outlining her process. She promised to draft at least five versions of her report and hold “retreats” with the YAA board to get their thoughts on the various drafts before a final version is submitted to the County. This email contained Stevens’ first draft. “Here TaDa! is draft 1. As it explains on the cover page, I envision that after I get your immediate/top of mind thoughts I will revise it to be draft 2.” Stevens wrote. “Draft 2 is what I hope we will share with your board early next week so they have plenty of time to read, react, and think it through before the retreat. It is what we will work with at the retreat.” Stevens said draft 3 will be the product of their work at the retreat.

Groups previously reviewed by ArtsMarket, Inc. confirmed retreats were part of Stevens’ process. In paperwork collected by Broward County employees,the Hockaday Museum of Art gave rave reviews of Stevens’ performance. The performance verification form states, “Louise…was a 99.9 on a scale of 1-100. ‘The company went above and beyond; having a retreat to ensure all staff was knowledgeable about the marketing plan.’ ArtsMarket, Inc. was very professional and has many National contacts.

However, Stevens would never go “above and beyond” with Young At Art.

EARLY MORNING MEETING DERAILS INDEPENDENT PROCESS

The retreat for Louise Stevens and Young At Art board members was scheduled for Tuesday, March 3, 2015. In a February 2, 2015 email, Stevens said, “This is terrific. I will fly in on Monday, so Monday, Tues, Wed night at hotel.” On Sunday March 1, Stevens emailed detailed plans to YAA staff. She promised to send a “long” executive summary to YAA on Monday March 2 so the YAA board can review before the retreat.

Stevens wrote she “will finish draft 2 of the plan tomorrow–luckily I have long flights!” Stevens would be coming to Fort Lauderdale from her home in Bozeman, Montana.

On Tuesday March 3, a noon time email informed YAA board members and staff that the planned retreat was cancelled.

YAA officials were still set to meet with Stevens on Wednesday March 4.

At 7:05 am Wednesday morning, Stevens emails YAA asking to delay the start of their 8am meeting. She wrote, “Jeff [Tottenhoff] called me last night and I have to meet him at 8 at the library. Pls. let the team know…just the usual county nervousness there. Can we start at 10:30?”

Stevens faced with more than “nervousness” that morning.

Multiple sources confirm that Jeff Tottenhoff, a Broward Libraries business administrator, delivered a threat to Louise Stevens: issue a negative report about Young At Art or your reputation would be ruined.

Sources confirm Stevens told the YAA board about the threat. When reached by REDBROWARD, Stevens had no comment.

However another source confirmed the early morning meeting took place at the Salad Bowl, an eatery located near the main library in downtown Fort Lauderdale.

When contacted by REDBROWARD, Tottenhoff admitted he met Stevens at the Salad Bowl for breakfast. He said he “just wanted to meet” Stevens. Tottenhoff said any claims that he threatened Stevens’ career and reputation were “patently false.”

As REDBROWARD previously reported, this was not the first time Stevens felt pressure from Broward County.

Stevens told YAA about the pressure before she had even signed a contract with Broward County. Stevens called her experience with Broward County unlike anything in many years dealing with local governments. “Heaven knows in our 32 years we have NEVER been put through a legal examination wringer like this,” she wrote. “Including having to purchase so much extra insurance for the law suits the county expects will be filed against us for our work on this project. (That’s what they told us!)”

She wrote, “Our only take away after negotiating (and losing) re the ridiculous insurance levels is that the County plans to sue us if the museum doesn’t turn around the way we say it should in the plan.” Stevens said she will “error on the side of conservative projections with them at all times so that YAA will exceed my projections.”

COUNTY PLAYS DAMAGE CONTROL

While Tottenhoff denies making any threats, the evidence clearly shows Stevens changed her review process after meeting with him. Even more telling, Broward County Administrator Bertha Henry would issue a memo blaming Stevens for the entire mess.

NEXT: BERTHA HENRY IN CYA MODE OVER YAA REVIEW

Independent Review Of Broward Children’s Museum Derailed By Intimidation And Threats

First in a multi-part investigation

Documents, emails and eye-witness interviews reveal the independent review of a Broward children’s museum was short circuited by intimidation, undue influence and threats by Broward County government officials. In July 2014, following a new lease agreement with Young At Art (YAA), Broward County issued a request for letters of interest (RLI) for an independent consultant to “provide strategic planning coordination for YAA and to lead and develop a new business, fundraising, and strategic plan….” The plan would focus upon organizational identity/increased visibility, a model for financial stability and a plan to strengthen YAA fundraising efforts.

In October 2014, the Broward County selection committee met to rank the six respondents to the RLI. The members of the committee were Skye Patrick, director of Broward Libraries, Peg Buchan, assistant director of Port Everglades and Mindy Shrago, the executive director of YAA. The committee unanimously ranked ArtsMarket, Inc. number one. Based in Bozeman, Montana, ArtsMarket, Inc. has a long track record of consulting local governments about museums and other cultural entities.

In her RLI application, Louise Stevens, founder of ArtsMarket, Inc., claimed she was “a nationally recognized planner and researcher specializing in the arts, with extensive experience in business planning for museums including youth museums.” Since 1982, Stevens stated, ArtsMarket “has lead over 300 independent business evaluations of nonprofit arts organizations on behalf of government funders/agencies and foundations.” Stevens believed she could perform her independent review of YAA for just $51,900 in taxpayer dollars.

However, Stevens was about to learn things rarely go smoothly in Broward County.

According to the Broward County purchasing department, officials hoped to have a finalized contract with the consulant just 45 days of it awarded the RLI. The County hoped the YAA independent review would be completed by December 2014. But in emails obtained by REDBROWARD, Louise Stevens made it perfectly clear that schedule was no longer in play.

On December 19, 2014, Stevens emailed an update to Hilary Winiger, the YAA grants administrator. Stevens wrote, “Just to keep all of you in the loop…we have still not received a signed contract. Two days ago, the county administrator required a completely revised signature page after we Fedex’ed everything they required last week.” Stevens claimed a county purchasing agent admitted he had done multi-million dollar contracts that were easier than this agreement.

Stevens stated her experience with Broward County was unlike anything in many years dealing with local governments. “Heaven knows in our 32 years we have NEVER been put through a legal examination wringer like this,” she wrote. “Including having to purchase so much extra insurance for the law suits the county expects will be filed against us for our work on this project. (That’s what they told us!)”

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On December 22, Winiger asked Stevens about the lawsuit threat. “One more thing, You mentioned in a previous email having to purchase extra insurance for the law suits.” Winiger wrote. “I’m confused. Who do they think will sue your company and for what reason?”

Three hours later, Stevens responded, “On the insurance front…we had to take out an extraordinarily high level of E and O insurance in addition to what we already carry. The County’s risk assessment team views our work on this as very high risk.”

Later in the same email, Stevens explains she believes the very high risk is posed by the County itself. She wrote, “Our only take away after negotiating (and losing) re the ridiculous insurance levels is that the County plans to sue us if the museum doesn’t turn around the way we say it should in the plan.” Stevens said she will “error on the side of conservative projections with them at all times so that YAA will exceed my projections.”

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Stevens ends with the following: “I am thinking that they have no idea what running a museum entails and that this is as much a learning project for them as anything.”

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Stevens would soon learn that while County officials may be novices at museum issues, they are skilled at issuing not-so-subtle professional threats.