How Much Did Expensive Dale Holness/Greg Tony Photo Op Cost Broward Taxpayers?

Alcee St with Dale Holness & Greg Tony

A simple street naming ceremony may end up costing Broward taxpayers big bucks after County Commissioner Dale Holness and Sheriff Gregory Tony turned it into a political photo opportunity. On Saturday, Holness and Tony hosted the family of the late Congressman Alcee Hastings at the African American Research Library in Fort Lauderdale. Holness and his allies across Broward pushed street renaming proclamations in Hastings honor in what insiders see as a naked ploy to curry favor with voters.

The controversial Holness is running in a crowded Democrat field to replace Hastings.

The Saturday morning event featured nearly zero members of the general public. In addition to the Hastings family, Holness and Tony, the other participants included Congresswoman Frederica Wilson, Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis, Broward Vice Mayor Michael Udine, Lauderhill Commissioner Ray Martin and Coral Springs Commissioner Nancy Metayer.

The African American Research Library is owned by Broward County. Who paid to rent the small dance studio/ conference room? Broward taxpayers? The Holness campaign?

Four blocks along Sistrunk Boulevard and Northwest 27th Avenue were blocked by Broward Sheriff’s Office personnel so Holness and Tony could march to a street post to erect the new Alcee Hastings signage. Who paid for the BSO presence.

Nearly a dozen BSO deputies were on hand for security along with a federal protection detail for Congresswoman. Wilson. Who paid for the security?

Sheriff Tony announced that those unable to walk the four blocks could ride in a BSO golf cart. A polite gesture, but why is taxpayer funded equipment being used for a political photo op?

At the end of the ceremony, Dale Holness gathered the Hastings family and the politicians for a group photograph. Holness singled out his staffer along with staffers for an absent Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Wilson and the official BSO photographer. He wanted to make sure each photographer had an opportunity to get them looking directly at the camera.

Who paid for a Broward County Commission aide to spend her Saturday taking pics?

Who decided to make an elaborate production out the street renaming? Why was it held midday on a Saturday in the scorching heat instead of the air-conditioned confines of the Broward Government Center?

Perhaps Dale Holness and Gregory Tony don’t care about costs as long as Broward taxpayers are picking up the bill?

Dale Holness instructs staffers to take pics

ICYMI: Daughter Of Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness Landed Huge PPP Loan For Her Political Consulting Business

In case you missed it, here’s our report from last year revealing how Damara Holness, daughter of Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness, landed a $350,000 PPP loan for her political consulting business. Ms. Holness claimed to have 18 employees on her payroll:

Damara Holness

Records show a Florida corporation based inside Broward Mayor Dale Holness’ real estate office received a loan up to $350,000 via the Federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) intended to help companies affected by the COVID-19 lockdown pay employees. Numerous records and published reports show Holness Consulting Inc. received a PPP loan between $150,000 and $350,000 on June 27, 2020. According to State records, Holness Consulting Inc. is located at 4325 W. Sunrise Blvd in Plantation. Damara Holness, daughter of Dale Holness, is listed as its president.

Two businesses owned by Broward Mayor Dale Holness, All Broward Realty and American Holding Group, are located at 4325 W. Sunrise Blvd in Plantation. 

State corporation records show Damara Holness formed Holness Consulting Inc in November 2018. Ms. Holness, president of the Broward Black Democratic Party Caucus, is active in local and State political campaigns. In December 2018, Holness Consulting Inc received a $350 payment from Coral Springs Commissioner Joshua Simmons. In June 2019, Coral Commission candidate Khurrum Wahid paid $4,500 to Holness Consulting Inc.

It appears Holness Consulting Inc failed to file its 2019 annual report in 2019. Holness Consulting Inc. filed for reinstatement on June 22, 2020. Five days later, Holness Consulting Inc received its PPP loan.

According to available records, Holness Consulting Inc. claims to have eighteen employees. It is rare for any local political consultant to employ anyone other than themselves.

As Broward Mayor, Dale Holness touted the PPP program since April to local governments and business groups. 

Did Broward Mayor Dale Holness encourage his daughter to seek a PPP loan?

Was the timing of the Holness Consulting Inc. corporate reinstatement and the receipt of the PPP loan a coincidence?

Does Holness Consulting Inc actually employ eighteen people?

Does Broward Mayor Dale Holness employ eighteen people?

REDBROWARD tried to ask Damara Holness. When contacted by telephone, Ms. Holness said, “I’m in a meeting right now” and hung up.

Dale Holness and Damara Holness have worked closely on political campaigns in the past. In 2018, the Holness offices housed the Andrew Gillum for Governor campaign offices. Earlier this year, Damara Holness hosted a party registration event at Dale Holness’ office in Plantation.

In 2014, Dale and Damara Holness played major roles in a court case involving a Broward County Commission race.

In court testimony, Broward County Commission candidate Tyler Francois admitted he did not live in District 2. Florida Statute 99.0615 states, “At the time of qualification, all write-in candidates must reside within the district represented by the office sought.” Francois testified he knew he lived in Broward County Commission District 9 when he filed his campaign paperwork on June 20th, 2014. District 9 is represented by Broward Mayor Dale Holness.

Francois’ testimony confirmed what many Broward political insiders believed, that Dale Holness played a role in Francois’ write-in candidacy. Broward superlawyer William Scherer, representing the plaintiff, asked if Francois knew Commissioner Holness. Francois said he had voted for Holness in 2012 but did not really know him. Francois testified that no lawyer, politician, political consultant or anyone else assisted him.

Francois’ story began to fall apart after Scherer asked who lived with him at his Lauderdale Lakes home. At first, Francois claimed he lived with his brother. He admitted his mother owned the house. Francois testified no one else lived at that address. Scherer asked if he knew the daughter of Commissioner Holness had used his address as legal residence.

Francois’ attorney Robert Vaughan strongly objected to the mention of Holness’ daughter. Francois denied any relationship with Damara Holness but admitted he knew her. He said he had met her a few times, but “not often.” Francois stated he never discussed his candidacy with Ms. Holness.

After the lunch recess, Francois was recalled to the witness stand to explain a picture from Damara Holness’ Twitter account. Scherer obtained a picture of Francois and Holness posted to Twitter on March 14, 2014. The picture showed Francois and Holness straing into each other’s eyes in the front seat of an automobile. The picture was captioned, “A picture is worth a thousand words.”  The caption included an animated emoticon of heart with an arrow through it.

Scherer asked Francois what the animated heart meant to him. The courtroom observers snickered when Francois said it could mean just about anything.

Broward Mayor Dale Holness is up for re-election in November. REDBROWARD tried to contact Mayor Holness for comment. His voice mailbox was full.

We will update this story if Mayor Holness or Damara Holness respond.