Dan Lewis Endorses His Client AND His Personal Attorney In Same Race On “Fake” Blue Card

In his latest “blue card” mailer, Democrat consultant Dan Lewis endorsed a paying client and his own personal attorney in a Broward County Court race. Released over the weekend, the card endorsed both Samuel Lopez and Kim Mollica in the Group 14 judicial race. Local Democrats were quick to label Lewis’ card as a “fake” and a “fraud.” Some singled out Mollica, a Republican, for appearing on a Democrat endorsement card.

According to Broward Supervisor of elections records, Mollica paid nearly $48,000 to Dan Lewis’ JNAC Communications & Management, LLC. This included a $45, 331.83 payment on July 26 for “postage and brochure.” In defending his latest campaign ploy, Lewis was quick to say no candidate paid to appear on the card.

“Nobody can buy their way onto The Blue Card. I’m paid to do what I do.  The Blue Card isn’t part of that and it is not for sale,” Lewis said. “You can’t hire me to get on The Blue Card.”

LOPEZ IS LEWIS’ ATTORNEY IN LEGAL DISPUTE WITH BUILDER

A prominent Mollica supporter told REDBROWARD he was surprised to see Lewis’ co-endorsement of Samuel Lopez.

Did Mollica know Samuel Lopez represents Dan Lewis and his wife in an ongoing legal battle in Broward County courts? Supervisor of Elections records show Lopez has spent just $10,000 in his campaign. There are no payments to Lewis or his companies.

Perhaps Lewis was aware this issue would come back to sting him. Lewis told the Miami Herald, “People hire me for specific purposes.” Lewis said, “Just because I sell data or sell some advisory things to campaigns doesn’t exclude me from offering or doing what I think.”

Sorry Kim, you paid Dan Lewis for consulting, postage and brochures. Obviously that did not include his loyalty.

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

 

Lien Forward? Broward Commissioner Not Paying Taxes Across Florida

Dale Holness, left, owes big bucks.
Dale Holness, left, owes big bucks.

Controverisal Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness owes big bucks to the City of Lauderhill, Broward County and St. Lucie County. A review of county tax and property records show liens, tax deeds and even foreclosure proceedings filed against the Broward politician. Holness, a real estate agent, has a long history of not paying his property taxes.

Since February 5, 2015, the City of Lauderhill filed five liens against properties owned by Holness, a former City of Lauderhill Commissioner. Filed for “delinquent local business taxes, fees and/or penalties,” Holness owes the City $4,398.95 on condominiums he owns in Lauderhill. These Lauderhill properties were at the heart of questions surrounding Holness’ residency issues.

In May 2013, REDBROWARD was first to expose Holness did not live in the run-down townhouse at 2630 NW 52 Avenue in Lauderhill. The City of Lauderhill filed a $761 lien on this townhouse in February. In 2013, Holness was registered to vote within District 9 by claiming to live in the small, older 940-square foot townhouse in the Royal Oaks development.

The 2006 Central Lauderhill Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) master plan shows  City officials targeted the Royal Oaks for a dramatic makeover funded by federal and state grants. The plan says Royal Oaks is in “disrepair and in need of landscaping upkeep.” The entire neighborhood was part of an ambitious plan to build parks and improve roads and sewers. The Royal Oaks neighborhood was “identified as properties suitable for acquisition, demolition and redevelopment.

As vice mayor of Lauderhill in 2006, Holness wrote the Central Lauderhill CRA master plan. Florida Department of State records show Holness has been an official of the Royal Oaks Condominium Association since 2000.

At visit to the townhouse by RED BROWARD and LOCAL 10 News, showed the unit was being used as a storage unit for old furniture and appliances.

Holness is currently registered to vote at a east Plantation home.

Broward County tax records show Holness has not paid county tax on the same five Lauderhill properties. He owes $4,457.90 in county taxes for 2014.

A sixth Lauderhill property owned by Holness has no liens and its taxes are current. However, the unit at 2611 NW 56th Avenue still created legal and financial headaches for Holness. In February 2014, the unit was under foreclosure proceedings. It was even set to be sold at auction.

Two years ago, this reporter exposed Holness’ delinquent $13,000 tax bill. According to Broward County tax records, Holness owed a tax payment of $2,586.86 on his Lauderhill home. He owed $2,605.28, $2,393.83, $2,672.09 and $2,502.01 on four of his rental properties.

Broward is not the only Florida county where Holness owes taxes.

St. Lucie County tax records show Holness has not paid property taxes on two vacant lots since 2008. Holness currently owes $7,415.45 to St. Lucie residents.

Holness’ outstanding taxes were paid by the tax deed certificate auction process. Florida counties hold auctions of delinquent tax bills. Investors bid on these certificates. Winning bidders pay the tax bill, but when a homeowner finally pays the taxes they levy 14% interest on the homeowner.

If a homeowner fails to pays the taxes, the holder of a tax certificate can initiate foreclosure proceedings.

In 2012 and 2013, the St Lucie County School Board purchased tax certificates for Holness’ property. The 2010 and 2011 tax deeds are held by the St. Lucie County Commission.

In 2013, Holness dismissed our reports as “conservative” attacks. Holness told the Sun-Sentinel he planned to sell one of his units to pay his taxes.

“I’m paying it as I can,” he said. “I have different responsibilities. I have children, I don’t neglect my children. I’ve been helping them because they have had a tough time and even though some [of them] are grown … I still have the responsibility.”

Holness has filed for re-election in 2016. To date, he has already raised $91,645 for his campaign for the District 9 seat.

District 9 voters should demand answers from Holness.