Governor Ron DeSantis is coming to Fort Lauderdale on Thursday to make a “major announcement.” The Governor will appear at the Broward County Courthouse this afternoon. He will be joined by Attorney General Ashley Moody, Secretary of State Cord Byrd, Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) Acting Commissioner Mark Glass and Election Crimes and Security Office Director Peter Antonacci.
UPDATE: Source tells REDBROWARD the topic will be fake voters.
UPDATE 2: POLITICO FL reporting Joe Scott will not be suspended but he will lose control of SOE. State will take over SOE and conduct an audit.
Thanks to a no-bid contract from Broward Supervisor of Elections (SOE) Office, Tamarac Commissioner Elberg Mike Gelin may pocket a huge commission check for work performed by another insurance benefits company. In March, newly-elected Supervisor of Elections Joe Scott signed a contract with Gelin Benefits Group, Inc. to provide insurance benefits services to SOE employees. Elberg Mike Gelin created Gelin Benefits Group in 2015.
Under the no-bid contract Gelin Benefits Group would act as the “service provider” for the insurance benefits policy between the Broward Supervisor Of Elections Office and United Healthcare Services (UHS). The deal would pay Gelin Benefits Group a commission equivalent to 6.83% of the medical premium paid to United Healthcare Services. Elberg Mike Gelin signed the contract on February 16, 2021.
According to a source, the previous Broward SOE service provider submitted the 2021 insurance information to United Healthcare Services in December 2020. At some point between February 16, 2021 and March 10, 2021 (when Joe Scott signed the contract) United Healthcare Services recognized Gelin Benefits Group as the sole service provider for Broward SOE. Even though Gelin Benefits Group played no role in the crafting of the current policy, United Healthcare Services would pay the 2021 commission to Gelin’s company.
The source told REDBROWARD that Gelin Benefits Group would do nothing more provide information and guidance to Broward SOE employees during the 2021 calendar year.
The source claimed former Broward Supervisor of Elections Peter Antonacci was happy with the work of previous service provider but he wanted Scott to have a say in the matter. The source said Joe Scott never met or even talked to the previous service provider.
When asked by REDBROWARD about changing service providers, Joe Scott said, “My team wasn’t happy with the previous vendor and Gelin Benefits Group has a great reputation and my staff is very happy with the change.”
Scott said Gelin Benefits Group recently hosted a “health fair” for SOE employees.
As to why he didn’t seek proposals for the contract, Scott said, “Going out to bid is not always necessary to get the best deal. Our office has ongoing needs from our benefits provider. Some treat the relationship as if it was only about setting up the benefits package. Gelin works with us on an ongoing basis.”
Scott claimed the previous service provider “didn’t have adequate customer service.”
REDBROWARD asked Joe Scott how he became aware of Gelin Benefits Group.
“Gelin is really good at what they do,” Scott said. “The company is very well known in my community.” Scott would not elaborate on what he means by “my community.”
When asked if he was concerned the no-bid contract looks like political payback to one of his earliest supporters, Scott said, “I made changes in vendor relationships to improve the organization. It’s pretty typical for losing vendors to be sour. It’s not newsworthy.”
Scott failed to respond to questions regarding discussions with anyone about Gelin Benefits Group.
GELIN BENEFITS GROUP GROWS
While Joe Scott may not think it’s “newsworthy,” taxpayers do have a right to know when an elected official lands big government contracts for his company. Government agencies will put contracts out to bid in order to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest. Here, the Broward SOE deal with Gelin Benefits Groups raises questions about a conflict of interest.
In early 2020, Joe Scott was a political newcomer in a race filled with longtime political insiders like former Broward Democrat Party Chairman Mitch Ceasar and former Broward School Board Member Jennifer Gottlieb. Some of Joe Scott’s earliest supporters were members of Team Dale Holness. In January 2020, Joe Scott received $500 from Happy Feet Advertising. REDBROWARD exposed Happy Feet Advertising’s close ties to Tamarac Commissioner Marlon Bolton. In June 2020, Scott received a contribution from Gelin himself. One month later, Scott received $500 from Forecast Holdings LLC, a company owned by Marlon Bolton. In October 2019, Scott received a contribution from Coral Springs Commissioner Nancy Metayer. Gelin recently revealed Metayer served as his aide on the Tamarac Commisison.
In September 2020, Joe Scott picked up a contribution from Miramar Commissioner Yvette Colburne. Last month, REDBROWARD revealed Gelin Benefits Group received a big new deal from the City of Miramar. Gelin did not disclose this deal when attorneys representing Miramar applied for the City of Tamarac city attorney position.
During the 2020 election, Joe Scott hired Flyer Smith for campaign services. REDBROWARD reported how Flyer Smith owner Omar Smith, Dale Holness’ campaign guru, is repeatedly involved in mysterious political committees supporting Holness and his allies. Last year, The People Of Principle PAC mailers featured Joe Scott alongside Dale Holness.
Did Joe Scott discuss Gelin Benefits Group with any of these supporters?
Is it just a coincidence that an incoming supervisor of elections just happens to know the name of a fairly new company that does business with municipalities?
Is it another coincidence that this obscure company is owned by one of his earliest supporters?
Is it fair that Gelin Benefits Group gets to pocket a commission for work it did not perform?
Is this just another case of crony capitalism? Well-connected friends reaping the rewards of backing the winning candidate?