Foreign Insurance Interests Helping Dale Holness Re-election To Broward Commission

A shadowy political committee supporting the re-election of Broward County Commissioner Dale V.C. Holness is funded by the director of a Cayman Islands-based reinsurance company. Even though the Latino Vote of South Florida political committee was formed in July 2015, it did not receive any contributions until last week. Four of the five contributions are tied to Krishna Persaud, the director of Oxbridge RE Holdings in the Cayman Islands.

According to their website, Oxbridge RE Holdings is a “Cayman Islands reinsurance holding company that provides reinsurance business solutions primarily to property and casualty insurers in the Gulf Coast region of the United States. Through our wholly owned Cayman Islands reinsurance subsidiary, Oxbridge Reinsurance Limited, we write fully collateralized policies to cover property losses from specified catastrophes.” Basically, Oxbridge insures waterfront properties from risks posed by hurricanes. Oxbridge is closely tied to Homeowners Choice, Inc. (HCI) a private Tampa-based insurance company which is supposed to help Citizens Insurance. Published reports claim nearly all of Oxbridge’s revenue comes from dealings with HCI. Persaud is the former director of HCI and Oxbridge chairman Paresh Patel is the founder of HCI.

RED FLAGS

In 2013, Tampa television investigators looked into the financial health of HCI.  WFTS-ABC reported “Although Homeowners Choice’s parent company saw its New York Stock Exchange-listed common shares more than double in price during the past year, its insurance unit gets a “D” from Weiss Ratings, which evaluates the strength of financial services companies.” Investment watchdogs worried about HCI’s financial practices.

“Seven years on, they’re still not, in our opinion, able to deal with a severe catastrophe,” said analyst Gavin Magor. He was troubled that Homeowners Choice pays regular dividends to common shareholders so soon in its history.  “It’s preferable for them not to do that,” he said. “And I would say that for any of these young startup companies.”

The Motley Fool website was stunned HCI used its finances to purchase waterfront real estate property instead of bonds.  “Most insurers invest premiums held in reserve against future payments in conservative bonds and other fixed-income securities. This allows the insurer to earn investment profits while still maintaining its ability to pay claims. And even stranger, the company has purchased real estate — it spent $13.7 million to buy two marinas and an adjacent property that are susceptible to Gulf of Mexico storms.” The website called the practice a “red flag.”

The four contributions to the Latino Vote group were made by real estate companies owned by Krishna and Sumentra Persaud. These same companies and others owned by Persaud have made direct contributions to Holness’ campaign. In Broward county, Persaud has regularly purchased foreclosed developments at bargain prices.

Still, Broward County Commissioners have little say over Tampa and Cayman Island insurance companies. So why the big push for Holness?

ANOTHER “FAKE” ENDORSEMENT CARD?

While the group has not listed any expenses, Latino Group endorsement cards have been spotted at early voting locations in Broward. A fancy card bearing the likenesses of Holness and Congressman Alcee Hastings were spotted earlier this week. It was labeled as the “diversity ballot.”

The card urged voters to “increase diversity” by voting for African-American judicial candidates, but the real stars of the card were Hastings and Holness.

A second card replicates the official Broward Supervisior of Elections ballot with one exception: Dale Holness’ name is bigger than his opponent Chris Smith. Also of note, the card endorsed Willie Jones over Broward Sheriff Scott Israel.

Earlier this month, Dan Lewis, a local beekeeper, printed the “fake” blue card supporting Jim Fondo, another Israel opponent. The Lewis card has been a flop at early voting as other candidates urged voters to ignore it. As of Saturday, some campaign workers were handing out photocopies of the blue card.

Will the Latino Vote card work? We will find out Tuesday night.

Merick Lewin Responds To Media Reports On His Ties To 411 PAIN

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Merick Lewin, Republican candidate for FL House 97, issued this statement as a response to recent media reports regarding his ties to 411 Pain.

The New Times reported Lewin acted as a lobbyist for the company which is owned and operated by members of his family.

Here is his unedited statement.

“In the world of today’s media there are many things said and inferred about political candidates. Many comments are either taken out of context or not completely explained. I wanted to take a moment and discuss some comments made about my candidacy on a blog last week.

The blog said I was a lobbyist for my Uncle’s company 411 Pain. Important details were left out as to why I was registered. During this time I was working to build my company Whats Next Marketing, which has offices in Tallahassee. My uncle asked me to monitor an issue which was at the time being discussed in committee meetings during the legislative session. I was not paid for doing this work nor was I the lead lobbyist or strategist for this effort. I was just another set of eyes and ears to follow the issue. Out of an abundance of caution, to ensure I was in compliance with state rules, I felt it was better to do more than was required and register as a lobbyist. This was not my full time job and my involvement did not last long. My full time job was and is running What’s Next Marketing, a small business that assists companies in marketing themselves via social networking and digital marketing.

The second issue I would like to clear up is the statement the blog made about my living with another Uncle. The lease on my apartment ran out shortly after I decided I wanted to run for the Florida House of Representatives in District 97. My uncle offered to let me stay at his home while I finish the process of purchasing a house. My staying with him now is only temporary, while the blog inferred it was my permanent home.

I am a little disappointed that this blog seems to want to focus on these types of issues rather than the more important issues that impact the citizens of District 97. As a lifelong resident of this area I have spent my time in the campaign going to meet with homeowners associations, citizens groups, firefighters, policemen, and teachers. I have listened to each and every person I have met to hear what they think their Representative and other elected officials need to be doing.

There are four main issues that are important to everyone I speak with. First is economic development, citizens want to work and they want good paying jobs. Second, businesses want a well trained work force that can compete in today’s market place and parents want their children to receive a world class education from our school system. Third, everyone wants to protect our seniors and provide them with the ability to grow old in retirement with the honor and dignity they have earned. Finally, everyone I have heard from is sick and tired of the corruption that has infected government here in Broward County and they want elected officials that have honesty and integrity.

My campaign is about listening to the citizens of this community and acting upon their wishes. We have received a positive response to our message and efforts so far. Many people have already have volunteered to help me in going door to door to meet the people of District 97 and spread the word about our campaign.

Thank you for the opportunity to ensure all the facts are explained and to tell you about the focus of my campaign. Should you wish to communicate with me directly attached is my email address. I look forward to meeting and speaking to you on the campaign trail.

I would be honored if you would consider voting for me, Merick Lewin as your next State Representative in District 97.

Sincerely,

Merick Lewin
Candidate for State Representative, District 97
Merick@MerickLewin.com”