STICKER SHOCK FOR DAN LEWIS CLIENTS

danlewisDan Lewis’ political clients might be in for some serious sticker shock. Lewis’ political committee (Florida’s Democracy Project) just filed its first financial report with the State of Florida. Earlier this week, Lewis took credit for the latest edition of his “fake” endorsement card targeting Broward Democrat voters. According to Buddy Nevins at BrowardBeat, “In his filing documents, Lewis writes that the group has no bank account ‘because we anticipate no monetary transactions, only in-kind contributions.‘”

On August 5, 2016 Florida’s Democracy Project reported a $18,766.50 in-kind contribution from JNAC Communication and Management Services, LLC, a Fort Lauderdale company owned by Dan Lewis. The in-kind contribution was described as “slate card production.”

LEWIS CLIENTS CHARGED DOUBLE THE COST OF BLUE CARD

Lewis’ clients paid twice as much for their countywide mailers than the in-kind cost of the blue card. In July, Clerk of Courts candidate Mitch Ceasar paid $41,877.51 to JNAC for “mailer, printing and postage.” Broward Circuit Court Judge candidate Doreen Turner Inkeles paid $44,162.75 to JNAC.

Two Broward County Court candidates paid Lewis’ JNAC the exact same amount for mailers. Kim Mollica and Rhoda Sokoloff each paid $45,331.83 to Lewis’ company.

INVESTIGATION INTO 2014 BLUE CARD

It is unclear how many “fake” blue cards were produced by Dan Lewis so far this year. REDBROWARD can confirm some voters have received the card by mailer. A source claims volunteers may be used to hand deliver cards.

In 2014, Lewis boasted of printing more than one million cards. REDBROWARD exposed that was not true.

Florida Elections Commission investigators found Lewis did not print one million “blue cards.” Investigators obtained invoices from Lewis’ printer, The Printer’s Printer, and cancelled checks. Robert Zelinka of The Printer’s Printer told investigators he had printed just 200,000 cards for Lewis. Zelinka said just 117,000 cards were mailed to Broward voters. On October 9, 2014, the company submitted an invoice for $12,499 to Lewis’ Strategic Technologies & Research, Inc. Lewis was billed $10,126 for 3 versions of “postcards’ and $2,373 for three different mail “drops.”

This invoice was received one week before Dan Lewis told BrowardBeat he had printed one million cards.

Lewis was accused of using a “fake” union label on his cards as well.

In July 2015, State investigator Keith Smith spoke with Tom Schatz, a chief investigator for the Teamsters Union in Washington, D.C.

Smith had faxed a copy of the mailer to Schatz to determine the validity of the union label on the “blue cards.” According to Smith’s notes, Schatz said, “that after reviewing the copy of the union-label and asking around, it was determined that the union-label was definitely not theirs and was a ‘counterfeit’ union-label. He said it appears that someone ‘made up’ the union-label and ‘stuck it on’ the mailer.”

Questions continue to swirl around Lewis’ card but he refuses to comment to REDBROWARD. Yesterday, REDBROWARD reported Lewis used the same US Post Office bulk mail permit to send clients mailers and the blue card. Was postage the in-kind contribution? Did the printer charge Lewis for the cards this time? Did Lewis buy his own printing press? Broward voters (and a few judicial candidates) deserve answers.

Dan Lewis’ Pattern Of Elections Law Violations Goes Beyond “Blue Card”

you_doodle_2016-04-25t20_33_51z-1Over the weekend, Broward Democrats loudly complained about the latest version of the”phony” blue endorsement card. As REDBROWARD previously reported, the card is the handiwork of the long-winded Democrat consultant Dan Lewis.  On Sunday, Broward Democrat officials denounced, “the deplorable campaign tactics of political operative Dan Lewis, Florida Democracy Project, and the attempt to mislead voters with the “Blue Card” slate.” Acting Broward Democrat Chair Cynthia Busch said, ““I want to make it very clear to voters that the Democratic Party is in no way connected to the “Blue Card”. This is an underhanded tactic that tarnishes the Democratic process.” Busch added, ” “I have no knowledge that anyone who appears on the card is responsible for the actions of Mr. Lewis. Candidates should not be unfairly associated with this type of behavior.”

Delighted with the modicum of publicity, Lewis claimed there was nothing wrong with his card. “We are in compliance with all rules,” Lewis told Buddy Nevins of Browardbeat.com. “I’m into transparency,” Lewis said. “Everything will be disclosed.”

However, State investigations dating back to the year 2000 show Lewis has not always complied with the law.

MIRAMAR LOCAL

Eleven years ago, a Broward/Palm Beach New Times story detailed Lewis’ flouting of Florida elections law. Reporter Trevor Aaronson wrote, “[S]ince leaving the Miramar City Commission in 1997, Lewis has dodged complaints of unethical behavior, moved to Fort Lauderdale, and refashioned himself as the go-to techie for Broward’s political machines, both Democratic and Republican.” According to Miramar resident Sherry Abdin, “Dan Lewis was the puppet master of Miramar.”

During the election of 2000, Lewis composed a mailer entitled “Miramar Local.” The mail piece promoted his favored candidates while attacking their opponents, Mayor Lori Moseley and Marjorie Conlan. Lewis’ wrote, “Heaven help us all if [Moseley] is elected….We suggest Moseley is putting her political campaign and personal agenda above the need for excellent legal representation for all of our taxpayers, as usual.”

Lewis described Conlan as a “do nothing” crony of Moseley. He had glowing words for Conlan’s opponent, Fitzroy Salesman. Lewis wrote, “[N]ewcomer Fitzroy Salesman who has little or no governmental experience, is fiercely independent and will represent an important diversity on the city commission.. Most people believe the city suffered with Conlan for six years, its time for a fresh new voice.”

Just days after he was elected, Salesman was hit with elections violations. He was fined $2,566.62 for not submitting his campaign treasury report on time. Salesman claimed the notice to file from the City Clerk was, “buried in junk mail and other pieces of mail.”

(FUN FACT: In 2010, Fitzroy Salesman was arrested in a public corruption sting. He spent three years in prison. So much for Lewis’ “fresh voice.”)

One month earlier, the Florida Elections Commission [FEC] found probable cause to believe Lori Moseley’s opponent, former Commissioner Jim Cundiff violated election laws. Cundiff faced a $115,215 fine.The commission also found basis for two of six campaign violation complaints against Dan Lewis, who was Cundiff’s campaign manager.

The FEC found probable cause Dan Lewis “violated Sections 106.143(1) and 106.19(1 )(c), Florida Statutes, when [Lewis] ‘ published and distributed the ‘Miramar Local’.” FEC investigators determined Lewis failed ‘to mark all political advertisements as a ‘pd. pol adv’ or a ‘paid political advertisement’ and to identify the sponsor.”  Investigators also found “probable cause to believe that [Lewis] violated Section 106.19(J)(c), Florida Statutes, prohibiting a person or organization from falsely reporting or failing to report information required by this chapter.”

According to the Miami Herald, “Political consultant Dan Lewis failed to label as a political
advertisement a 1999 newsletter that criticized Miramar Mayor Lori Moseley and promoted her opponent, Jim Cundiff. He also failed to report the $1,693 he spent on 5,000 newsletters as an independent expenditure with the city clerk.”

In March 2001, Lewis told the Sun-Sentinel, “I believe there is no probable cause. They will not find that I broke any law….I think these laws on technical infractions have to be revisited sometime.”

LEWIS ADMISSIONS TO FEC

In his response to the FEC, Lewis appeared to admit his guilt. His lawyer submitted this statement:

On or about February 25, 1999, Dan Lewis published a direct mail piece identified as the “Miramar Local” which was mailed to registered voters in the City of Miiamar. The publication supported the candidacy of Jim Cundiff~ who was a candidate for the office of Mayor of Miramar at the election of March 9, 1999. The publication also opposed the candidacy of Lori Moseley, who was also running for mayor at that election A copy of the “Miramar Local” is attached as exhibit.

The FEC determined candidate Cundiff had made numerous payments to Lewis and his company, even though Lewis claimed he paid for the publication and distribution of the pamphlet with his own money.

While neither denying or admitting guilt, Dan Lewis signed a consent order with the FEC on April 23, 2002. No fine was levied and Lewis paid his own legal costs.

Lewis moved on from the Miramar Local pamphlet when he came up with his blue endorsement card. A comment on a BrowardBeat story signed by Dan Lewis states, “‘The Blue Card’ by design and purpose is to advance democratic progressive candidates, and has been distributed in each of the last 3 election cycles including five (5) elections, including this one. It is neither illegal, nor ‘fake’ as the Sheriff Israel political machine would suggest.”

However State investigators may feel differently about Lewis’ “blue card.”

BLUE CARD 2014

Last May, the Florida Elections Commission (FEC) once again dealt with an investigation into Dan Lewis’ campaign tactics. The FEC unanimously voted to fine a company owned by Lewis for violations of Florida election law. The FEC investigation focused upon “blue cards” and “red cards” produced for the 2014 election by The Democracy Project, a fictitious entity created by Lewis’ STAR, Inc. In a 5-0 vote, the FEC determined Strategic Technologies & Research, Inc (STAR, Inc.) violated Florida Statutes sections 106.071(1) and 106.19(1)(c). Investigators determined failed to file expenditure reports and “deliberately failed” to include required information on expenditure reports.

REDBROWARD reported STAR, Inc claimed they solicited no funds to pay for the “blue cards.” The state believed they listed expenditures for $399 (just below a $400 threshold) instead of the actual cost.

In October 2014, Dan Lewis bragged about his “blue card” scheme to BrowardBeat.com. He said he was using the cards to oppose the Broward School Board bond issue. Lewis said, “It comes down to trust, and I just don’t trust the School Board to act in either a responsible or professional manner or neither should you.” Lewis claimed he printed one million cards, with 500,000 to be mailed to Broward voters. Lewis told BrowardBeat he would send the card to 750,000 email address as well.

THE ONE MILLION BLUE CARD MYTH

But State investigators found Lewis did not print one million “blue cards.” Investigators obtained invoices from Lewis’ printer, The Printer’s Printer, and cancelled checks. Robert Zelinka of The Printer’s Printer told investigators he had printed just 200,000 cards for Lewis. Zelinka said just 117,000 cards were mailed to Broward voters. On October 9, 2014, the company submitted an invoice for $12,499 to Lewis’ Strategic Technologies & Research, Inc. Lewis was billed $10,126 for 3 versions of “postcards’ and $2,373 for three different mail “drops.” This invoice was received one week before Lewis told BrowardBeat he had printed one million cards.

“COUNTERFEIT” UNION LABEL ON BLUE CARDS

State investigators also determined the “blue cards” were stamped with a phony union label. Many Democrat candidates display a union label on their mailers out of respect to unions’ longtime support of Democrat causes. In July 2015, State investigator Keith Smith spoke with Tom Schatz, a chief investigator for the Teamsters Union in Washington, D.C.

Smith had faxed a copy of the mailer to Schatz to determine the validity of the union label on the “blue cards.” According to Smith’s notes, Schatz said, “that after reviewing the copy of the union-label and asking around, it was determined that the union-label was definitely not theirs and was a ‘counterfeit’ union-label. He said it appears that someone ‘made up’ the union-label and ‘stuck it on’ the mailer.”

ATTEMPT TO FOOL VOTERS?

Did Dan Lewis hope to fool voters with a fake union bug on the “blue cards?” While that’s not clear, many local Democrats believed Lewis’ “blue cards” were indeed a dirty trick meant to fool Democrat voters. In early November 2014, Palm Beach Democrat officials warned voters about the cards. The Palm beach Post reported, “The palm card, called ‘The Blue Card 2014 Voting Slate,’ appears to target Maria Sachs, the Democratic candidate for State Senator (District 34) and Andy O’Brien, the party’s choice for County Commissioner (District 4), wrote the county’s party chair Terrie Rizzo, in a party email alert. The Blue Card lists legitimate Democratic candidates in other races, but for Sachs’ and O’Brien’s districts, it lists their Republican opponents instead — Ellyn Bogdanoff and Steven Abrams.”

“The cards are blue in color, sent by something called ‘The Democracy Project.’ The Democracy Project is the brainchild of a Broward County-based political strategist who has used the same technique in prior years to influence voters,” Rizzo wrote. “The purpose of these Palm Cards seems to be to confuse Democratic voters into voting for Republican candidates. Please don’t be fooled.”

In Broward County, the Lewis “blue card” listed Republican Chip LaMarca instead of his Democrat challenger Ken Keechl. Sources told REDBROWARD Broward Democrat leaders were incensed when party chairman Mitch Ceasar failed to rebuke the Lewis “blue card.” Now, Dan Lewis is the main consultant for Ceasar’s campaign to be Broward County Clerk of Courts.

LEWIS ATTACKS THE MESSENGER

Attorney Colleen O’Loughlin represented STAR, Inc in the FEC matter. She used many legal tactics to stop the investigation, including a claim that STAR, Inc’s relationship with The Printer’s Printer involved “trade secrets” which were confidential. O’Loughlin even urged the FEC to seek criminal charges against the Broward resident who filed the complaint.

BLUE CARD 2016

Dan Lewis continues to attack the critics of his campaign tactics. On BrowardBeat Lewis arrogantly boasts, ““I’m upset that these (critics) view the voters as being that easy influenced….I am overjoyed that The Blue Card added some excitement into the primary.”

NEXT: BUZZ SURROUNDING BLUE CARD STINGS CANDIDATES

 

Pines Commish Playing Politics In Broward Sheriff’s Race?

Even though he says questions about the county’s emergency 911 response system are not “political,” Pembroke Pines Commissioner Jay Schwartz has spearheaded  a campaign against Broward Sheriff Scott Israel and BSO since at least last April. Schwartz claims to be troubled by the response times of the BSO-operated 911 dispatch system. On Wednesday, Schwartz’s scheme to return control to the Pembroke Pines Police Department was rejected by the city commission.

The day before, Schwartz told WPLG Local 10 he received a call from Sheriff Scott Israel asking him to postpone the vote. Schwartz claims Israel asked him to delay the vote until after the August 30th Democrat primary. 

“He asked that the item wait until after the primary,” Schwartz said. “I went forward with the item because it’s about protecting the residents of Broward County. This dispatch system is not political. What I heard from the sheriff was very disappointing.”

Israel faces challengers Willie Jones, Edison Jules and James Fondo on the August ballot.

Schwartz’s claims Israel is playing politics with public safety echoes the talking points pushed by Fondo, his consultant Dan Lewis and other supporters.

In fact, many Fondo supporters rushed to Schwartz’s defense on Facebook when BSO general counsel Ron Gunzburger attempted to correct the record. Schwartz did not deny Gunzburger’s claim that the Pines commissioner had done extensive polling on the issue.

Two sources told REDBROWARD that Schwartz had commissioned polls on the dispatch issue. Schwartz was re-elected in March.

Gunzburger posted the Sheriff asked for the delay because the County consultant investigating the dispatch system will not complete his report until September.

In April, Schwartz started the steady drumbeat to support his anti-BSO position. On Facebook, Schwartz said return dispatch to Pines control was, “My first order of business in the second term.”

Since then, Schwartz has posted numerous articles which paint Sheriff Israel and BSO in a negative light. These articles are similar to the same ones posted by the Fondo-supporting “Broward Citizens Over Public Safety (COPS)” group.

Come on, Jay. Fess up. You’re a politician. You’ve been playing politics too.