RedBroward Podcast: Corruption 101

Newest episode of the REDBROWARD Superpower Hour Podcast is now available. It’s a short history lesson on how corruption can infect local government.

Click HERE to listen.

Elberg Mike Gelin Says His Paycheck From Insurance Benefits Company Grew Nearly 400% Since Getting Elected To Tamarac Commission

Income from Elberg Mike Gelin’s insurance benefits company increased nearly four hundred percent since becoming a Tamarac Commissioner three years ago, official disclosure forms show. Last month, REDBROWARD reported City of Tamarac lawyers were so concerned over ethical issues raised by the business relationship between Gelin Benefits Group, Inc. and the Broward Sheriff’s Office (BSO), that it asked the State of Florida Commission On Ethics for guidance. On November 27, 2018, Gelin took the oath of office as a Tamarac Commissioner. One week later, Tamarac city attorney Sam Goren asked the Florida Commission On Ethics if a prohibited conflict of interest was created by a company owned by Elberg Mike Gelin having an existing business relationship with BSO. The City of Tamarac has a contract with BSO to provide law enforcement services.

While the Commission On Ethics stated the Gelin Benefits Group’s deal with BSO posed no conflict of interest because it was signed before he was elected, it did highlight the problems faced when an elected official solicits business for a personally owned company from other municipalities and government entities.

The problem becomes even more complicated when an elected official fails to fully disclose business dealings with other government officials.

FULL DISCLOSURE?

Commissioner Elberg Mike Gelin appears to have a problem disclosing his business dealings to Tamarac voters. In June, REDBROWARD reported Gelin failed to disclose all of his government contracts on his required financial forms. Form 1 consists of three parts. Elected officials are required to disclose primary sources of income, secondary sources of income and real property.

Under secondary sources of income, officials are told to include “Major customers, clients and other sources of income to businesses owned by the reporting person.”

Under secondary sources of income on his 2018 Form 1, Commissioner Gelin wrote “N/A” which is shorthand for “not applicable.”

REDBROWARD asked Gelin to clarify why his contract with BSO between February 2018 and February 2019 was “not applicable.” Gelin did not respond.

On his Form 1 for 2019, Gelin listed contracts with the City of Miramar, the City of Lauderdale Lakes and Broward Health (North Broward Health District). Still no mention of a contract with BSO.

Even though he listed just three government agencies on his 2019 Form 1, documents show Gelin Benefits Group previously touted contracts with multiple government agencies.

On January 10, 2019, Gelin Benefits Group submitted a proposal to the City of Lauderdale Lakes. In the proposal, Gelin Benefits Group states it provides services to the City of Miramar and the Broward Sheriff’s Office (BSO).

On August 22, 2019, Gelin Benefits Group submitted a controversial proposal to the City of North Miami. Gelin Benefits Group stated its clients included the City of Miramar, the City of Lauderdale Lakes, Broward Health, Broward Sheriff’s Office, and Broward County Government.

Under “notable client experience,” Gelin listed the City of Miramar, the City of Coconut Creek and the Broward Clerk of Courts.

Under “references,” Gelin Benefits Group listed Miramar, BSO, and Broward County Government.

Last week, Elberg Mike Gelin submitted his 2020 Financial Disclosure Form 1. Once again, Gelin only listed Miramar, Lauderdale Lakes and Broward Health.

Did Gelin Benefits Group lose deals with BSO, the Clerk of Courts and others entities?

While Gelin continues to list the same three clients on his disclosure form, another legally required form appears to show being a Tamarac Commissioner has been very good to Elberg Mike Gelin’s bottom line.

400 PERCENT?

Along with the financial disclosure forms, elected officials are required to reveal any outside or concurrent employment to residents. Since his election in 2018, Elberg Mike Gelin has disclosed outside/concurrent employment for the years 2018, 2019, and 2020. All three forms list Gelin Benefits Group Inc for outside employment.

In addition to the name of employer, the form asks for “remuneration received for the covered year.” For our readers in Margate, this means “how much were you paid during the covered year.” The official simply checks off a range of how much he received from the outside employment.

In 2018, Gelin declared he received between $25,001 and $50,000 from Gelin Benefits Group. Not bad for a company formed just three years earlier.

In 2019, Gelin stated his pay nearly doubled in a year. He declared receiving between $50,001 and $100,000 from Gelin Benefits Group.

Last week, Elberg Mike Gelin filed his 2020 outside/concurrent employment form. While the COVID-19 pandemic hurt numerous small businesses across Broward, things were booming over at Gelin Benefits Group. Now, Gelin claims his remuneration from Gelin Benefits Group exceeds $100,001.

That is a 400 percent pay increase for Elberg Mike Gelin since taking office in Tamarac just three years ago.

Guess the lockdown doesn’t hurt your business when most of your big clients are local governments.

But, if Elberg Mike Gelin received more than $100,000 last year, why did Gelin Benefits Group apply for a PPP loan for its two employees? Records show Gelin Benefits Group received a $34,000 PPP loan in April 2020. These records show $34,370 of the loan was forgiven.

Also, the contracts between local municipalities and Gelin Benefits Group are funded with Broward taxpayers’ hard earned money. Even Gelin Benefits Group’s newest deal with the Broward Supervisor of Elections Office is funded with public dollars.

And Elberg Mike Gelin still picks up a paycheck as a Tamarac Commission. Who pays Gelin’s salary? Yep, Broward taxpayers.

But Elberg Mike Gelin is not the only Broward official getting fat eating off the Broward taxpayer trough….

Tamarac Interim City Attorney Hans Ottinot Fails To Disclose His Role As Paid Political Consultant & Campaign Manager

Hans Ottinot and wife with Judge Phoebe Francois

Tamarac interim city attorney Hans Ottinot failed to disclose his recent role as a paid political consultant and campaign manager, records show. This is the second instance of Ottinot failing to tell Tamarac officials about his outside consulting work. Last month, REDBROWARD revealed Hans Ottinot failed to disclose his lucrative legal consulting contract with the City of North Miami when applying for the permanent city attorney position.

REDBROWARD obtained a November 2020 contract between HLA Consulting Group LLC and the City of North Miami for legal consulting on matters involving private/public partnership developments and other land use issues. HLA Consulting Group LLC receives $2,500 per month for the contract which runs through September 2021. Florida business records show Hans Ottinot created HLA Consulting Group LLC in November 2020.

A review of Hans Ottinot’s bid to be the permanent Tamarac City Attorney shows no mention of HLA Consulting Group LLC or its lucrative deal with the City of North Miami. Ottinot’s paperwork also lacks any mention of his work as a paid political consultant.

HERE COMES THE JUDGE

Official campaign treasurer reports show Hans Ottinot and his wife were paid political consultants for Broward County Judge Phoebe Francois for her 2020 election. The records show Judge Francois paid Hans Ottinot $7,500 for his consulting work. Ottinot’s wife, Margarita Francois Ottinot was paid $7,000 for consulting on Judge Francois’ campaign.

In addition to the $7,000 consulting fee, Margarita Francois Ottinot was paid $3,000 for “early voting” and another $3,000 for “election day.” One would think Hans Ottinot would brag about his election victory not to mention his family’s $20,500 haul.

Yet Ottinot never mentioned this payday in his city attorney paperwork.

Perhaps Hans Ottinot thought it was weird that his opponents for the permanent City of Tamarac attorney position helped make the Ottinot family $20,500 haul possible.

The campaign treasurer records show State Representative Dotie Joseph made a small contribution to Judge Phoebe Francois. As REDBROWARD exposed last month, Dotie Joseph is listed as a member of the Ottinot Law firm in the proposal submitted to City of Tamarac. But Dotie Joseph is also listed as an attorney with the Austin Pamies Norris Weeks Powell firm, according to its website.

Austin Pamies Norris Weeks Powell is hoping to be the next Tamarac city attorney.

Michelle Pamies of the Austin Pamies Norris Weeks Powell firm made a $500 contribution to Judge Phoebe Francois.

Burnadette Norris Weeks P.A. made a $350 contribution to Judge Phoebe Francois. Burnadette Norris Weeks was the former attorney for Broward Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes.

Another Tamarac City Attorney hopeful, Michael Garcia, is also listed as an attorney on the Austin Pamies Norris Weeks Powell website.

Why does Hans Ottinot fail to disclose his significant business dealings to City of Tamarac officials? The Mayor, the City Commission and the City Manager need to know about matters which may pose a conflict of interest, right?

Why are so many of the law firms seeking the Tamarac city attorney job interconnected?

Is everyone on Team Dale Holness?

Tamarac voters deserve to know, right?

Who will come to the defense of Tamarac residents and business owners?