Democrat Consultant To Media: Buzz Off?

Broward Democrat consultant Dan Lewis was not interested in answering any questions regarding his role at Broward Health. REDBROWARD caught up with Mr. Lewis at Friday’s judicial robing ceremony in downtown Fort Lauderdale. Lewis has not responded to repeated requests for comment on stories related to his attempts to land a million dollar contract from Broward Health.

Lewis said nothing as he worked his way among Broward’s judiciary but his look was not a happy one. 

We welcome any comments from Mr. Lewis. 

Broward deserves answers.

  

Embattled Broward Health Lawyer No Stranger To Controversy

The Broward Health attorney accused of blocking an FBI probe into corruption is no stranger to legal controversy. Earlier this month, the Florida Bulldog reported Lynn M. Barrett, Broward’s Health’s general counsel, “failed to cooperate with the FBI, withheld evidence and protected an executive accused of attempting to rape several employees.” The allegations came in an email from an investigator hired by Dr. Nabil El-Sanadi, the Broward Health CEO. In January, El-Sanadi committed suicide at his Lauderdale-By-The-Sea condominium.

According to the Florida Bulldog, private investigator Wayne Black alleged, “Barrett had shut him out of ‘various investigations’ and accused her of wrongfully asserting a claim of legal privilege to block law-enforcement access to a laptop used by an executive suspected of improprieties.”

Last week, Barrett created more trouble for Broward Health when she advised the hospital district’s commissioners to discuss the matter outside the presence of the public.

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel blasted Barrett’s advice. The Editors wrote, “[W]e do not believe it is legal — let alone, appropriate — for this public board to prevent the public from hearing discussion of an email that alleges obstruction of justice.” Barrett convinced some board members that a public discussion would hinder the FBI investigation. Broward Health Chairman David Di Pietro blasted Barrett’s advice. The Sun-Sentinel reported, “DiPietro later said he wouldn’t participate in such a scheme.”

This is not the first time a controversy involving Lynn Barrett made the pages of the Sun-Sentinel.

In July 1987, Barrett claimed her boss was hindering her private practice. Her former boss was Broward State Attorney Mike Satz. According to the Sun-Sentinel story, Barrett, “accused [Satz] of blackballing her and hindering her new career as a defense attorney.” Barrett was upset that the State Attorney’s office would not accept a plea bargain agreement in a DUI case. It was Barrett’s first case in private practice.

“I’m embarrassed. I’m humiliated. My ability to earn a living in this county is being hampered,” Barrett told Judge Dale Ross. Barrett blamed Asst. State Attorney John Countryman for “abusive and unfair” treatment because “he simply dislikes her.”

Countryman denied all the allegations.

After less than a year in the State Attorney’s office, Barrett “resigned because she was ‘stressed out’ from handling a huge caseload.”

Barrett claimed the State Attorney handling the DUI case told her no plea deal would be offered if she was on the case. When asked if an offer would be extended if another attorney represented the client, Barrett claimed she was told yes.

After another lawyer was brought onto the case, the State Attorney’s office made the deal.

Democrat Consultant & Broward Health CEO Teamed Up To Stop NSU Teaching Hospital

While he was hoping to land a million dollar contract from the North Broward Hospital District, Democrat consultant Dan Lewis teamed up with the Broward Health CEO to stop a proposed teaching hospital at Nova Southeastern University(NSU). REDBROWARD obtained emails between Lewis and then-CEO Frank Nask discussing HCA plans to build a 100 bed teaching hospital on the NSU campus in Davie. Lewis even acted as an intermediary between Nask and NSU President George Hanbury.

In September 2013, NSU announced the HCA hospital would anchor its academic village, “a Jeffersonian concept that is defined as ‘a community of scholars and student lives working closely together, combining theory and practice’ and serve as the foundation for Broward County’s only comprehensive research and medical center.” NSU stated HCA would own the hospital and no public funds would be used in its construction. George Hanbury said, “But for the development of this hospital, Nova Southeastern University would be unable to complete its full vision for expansion of its research in cancer, diabetes, and other vital academic medical research projects essential for the wellbeing of our community.”

NSU stated construction would not begin until HCA’s Certificate of Need (CON) was approved by the Agency for Health Care Administration.

THE CON

On October 21, 2013, Nask emailed Lewis HCA’s Certificate of Need application. Nask was forwarding the information he received from Broward Health lobbyist Charlotte Mather. She told Nask, “Here is the main narrative of the application. A CD with the entire application is being fedexed to us as it is 1500 pages.”

The next day, Nask emailed Lewis about the strategy to use in a meeting with George Hanbury. Nask wrote, “On the issue of developing teaching programs and having research dollars come to us to reduce tax dependency then it is pretty much all us…millions of dollars in research, clinical trials etc would be income to the system in addition to the intellectual property to be developed…”

Dan Lewis met with George Hanbury on Wednesday October 23, 2013.

PRESSURE PUT ON HANBURY

On Friday October 25th, Lewis emailed Hanbury. He thanked Hanbury for meeting him and reviewed “the important points we discussed, and highlight[ed] those upon which we agreed.” Lewis trumpted the relationship between NSU and Broward Health.

Lewis wrote the relationship, “could expand beyond the clinical areas that currently exist. More specifically, the business, law and general college at NSU trains students at all levels to be productive citizens of our community and Broward Health is in constant need of, and can be a valuable resource for these skilled graduates as it fills more than 1,000 vacancies a year.” Lewis continued to dangle the carrot in front of Hanbury. He wrote, “Certainly the establishment of both non clinical internships and fellowships at Broward Health as its more than 7,000 employees go about their routine daily can be accomplished through the collaborative discretion between you and Mr. Nask and a simple agreement.” Lewis stated Hanbury had agreed to work on the internship matter with Nask.

Then, Lewis delivered the stick. Lewis stated he understood Hanbury’s committment to HCA. He shared his view on the drawbacks of the HCA proposal, “as well as the risk it poses for our community health hospitals–notably the Memorial system for patients, and Broward Health for the existing overall relationship.” Lewis made it clear the opposing forces were only concerned about the HCA hospital not NSU, for now.

Lewis wrote, “I made it clear that while I think there is both legitimate and broad opposition to the relationship you have created with HCA, which is not the same as opposition to your vision or NSU at present.”

Lewis told Hanbury the HCA CON would fail. He urged Hanbury to make an alternative deal with Broward Health. He wrote, “We agreed that this is why putting in some time creating an alternate plan with Broward Health in the event your HCA plan fails makes so much sense. I recommended that you immediately work with Mr. nask on a plan B with BH for this reason. You agreed.”

Lewis stated Hanbury had agreed, “to make time in [his] busy schedule meet privately and informally with Mr. Nask on a regular basis to accomplish these goals on a by-weekly, or monthly basis. Probably an ideal time would be at the end of the day, when you are on your way home to east Fort Lauderdale.”

LEWIS GOES PUBLIC

Despite the support of many Broward politicians and business leaders such as Broward County Mayor Marty Kiar, Broward County Commissioner Stacy Ritter, State Rep. Katie Edwards, State Rep. Jim Waldman as well as the Mayors of Davie, Dania Beach, Coral Springs and Plantation, the State of Florida rejected the HCA proposal in December 2013.  On December 23, 2013, the pressure tactics on Hanbury went public when Dan Lewis penned a letter to the editor in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Lewis took exception with the Sun-Sentinel’s support of the HCA proposal.

As he promised to Hanbury in October, Lewis took aim at NSU.

Lewis wrote, Broward Health’s “engine is twice as large as NSU’s with a $4-billion budget, its almost 8,000 employees and close to 35 facilities.” Lewis called Hanbury’s plan a “short-sighted vision.” He scolded Hanbury for being a puppet for HCA.

“President Hanbury should have strengthened NSU’s existing partnership with Broward Health and utilized its existing facilities as a reasonable first step, rather than acting as HCA’s proxy,” Lewis wrote.

Lewis urged NSU leaders to, “question the wisdom of President Hanbury’s execution of his vision. NSU and Broward Health should discuss a Plan B that keeps the vision alive and utilizes available resources for the community’s benefit.”

The Sun-Sentinel letter noted Lewis was a former City of Miramar Commissioner and current member of the Broward County Health Facilities Authority. It made no mention of Lewis’ attempts to win a million dollar contract operating the intensivist program at Broward Health.

LEWIS’ ROLE AT BROWARD HEALTH

As REDBROWARD exposed last week, Dan Lewis hoped to win the contract operating a program he pushed Broward Health to create following the illness of his daughter. Late last month, On Saturday, January 23, Dr. Nabil El Sanadi, the CEO of Broward Health, killed himself in the lobby of his Lauderdale-By-The-Sea condominium. Just hours after his death, Lewis spoke ill of the dead.

“[El-Sanadi] has decimated professional and competent senior staff and put in place people that will give him the answers he wanted,” Lewis told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. “While I’m sensitive and sorry for people’s loss, the damage he has done to Broward Health is almost incalcuable.” 

El-Sanadi replaced Nask, who was ousted in late 2014. Dan Lewis’ comments following El-Sanadi’s death were the latest in a year long blogging campaign against the late doctor.

In March 2015, BrowardBeat.com confirmed Lewis was behind the BRWDHEALTH blog. “The website is run by political strategist Dan Lewis. When Lewis takes his time and effort to establish a website, I pay attention. After roughly three decades in Broward politics building a wide range of political, business and community contacts, he is generally on target,” wrote Buddy Nevins of BrowardBeat.

Lewis purchased the domain name just two months after El-Sanadi was appointed as CEO at Broward Health. On March 17, 2015 Lewis explained his motivation for starting the blog. He claimed the poor treatment his daughter received in 2011 forced him into action. Lewis wrote, “[I]nstead of suing everyone for malpractice, which we would likely win – my daughter and I decided that instead, we would commit to try to fix the problem so future families would not have to endure what we had to at the hands of Broward Health.”

As REDBROWARD reported last week, Lewis spent most of 2013/2014 trying to get the contract for the Broward Health intensivist program.

While he was pressuring Hanbury over the HCA deal, Lewis was negotiating a deal with Broward Health as the chairman of Critical Care Physicians (CCP).

An October 2013 email from Lewis to CEO Frank Nask showed negotiations are still ongoing. Regarding questions over fees, Lewis wrote, “We know that what we do here makes a difference to [Broward Health], our community, and our families and we do not take a back seat to any competitor for our clinical offering or for our understanding of [Broward Health]. Nor do we yield the ground financially. Our deal is the best one for [Broward Health].” Lewis claimed had “our intensivist program been in place,” his daughter’s care would have been better.

He wrote, “I simply can’t stress this enough, we are different from the rest because Broward Health is our hospital and we share and support your vision that Broward Health can be the finest public hospital system in the country….”

Lewis asked Nask to “meet the entire 8 member team that has been working for over 2 years to develop our intensivist program specifically for Broward Health.” He said, ” I need you to know that it is not just me with a passion for what is possible but that I stand on the shoulders [of] a remarkable group of highly motivated, highly professional and incredibly competent indiviudals.” The email does not reveal the identity of the eight members of Lewis’ team.

After Nask was gone, Lewis grew frustrated with El-Sanadi’s position regarding his role at Broward Health. REDBROWARD posted audio of El-Sanadi requesting to meet Lewis only with lawyers present. El-Sanadi wanted to discuss Lewis’ exact role regarding the course of business at Broward Health.

Did Dan Lewis’ actions conflict with his role as a member of the Broward County Health Facilities Authority and the BRHPC?  Did Dan Lewis meet with Hanbury as a private citizen or as a representative of BRHPC?
Was Dan Lewis being paid by Broward Health for his role in the HCA matter? Or, did he think it would help him land the CCP contract? 

We asked Dan Lewis for answers. He  did not respond to a request for comment.
Editor’s Note: The original headline referred to Mr. Lewis as a “Democrat Lobbyist.” Mr. Lewis is a “Democrat Consultant.” We regret the error.