City Of Tamarac Lawyers Specifically Asked Florida Commission On Ethics For Opinion On Elberg Mike Gelin Contract With BSO, Yet He Failed To List Deal On His Financial Disclosure Form

Despite the concerns of city lawyers about his business dealings with the Broward Sheriff’s Office (BSO), Tamarac Commissioner Elberg Mike Gelin failed to disclose the financial relationship on his legally required Form 1, records show. 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.

In addition to the BSO matter, Tamarac lawyers asked the Commission On Ethics whether any conflict would arise if Gelin Benefits Group worked with other vendors doing business with government entities. Also, lawyers asked if Gelin Benefits Group was prohibited from signing future contracts with municipalities or government entities.

On February 14, 2018 Gelin Benefits Group entered into a contract with BSO to provide health insurance consulting services. The one year deal paid Gelin Benefits Group $20,000 on a quarterly basis. BSO retained the right to extended the contract for year.

The City of Tamarac provided a copy of the BSO contract with Gelin Benefits Group to the Florida Commission On Ethics. Emails between the Commission On Ethics and Tamarac lawyers show Gelin was a willing participant in the inquiry.

On January 7, 2019 the Florida Commission On Ethics delivered good news for Elberg Mike Gelin. In its opinion, the Commission stated Gelin’s deal with BSO avoided any conflict of interest because it was signed before he was elected. The Commission stated the deal was “grandfathered” and posed no issue.

As to future business agreements, the Florida Commission On Ethics determined it lacked specific facts to render an opinion on the matter. But the Commission was told Gelin was not seeking new deals with anyone doing business with the City of Tamarac.

The Commission wrote:

[Y]ou relate that the Commissioner’s company is not specifically seeking to do business with agencies within the county, or elsewhere, that have relationships with the city, that the city has agreements with a number of government agencies but it is unknown whether these agencies will be in the markets for services provided by the commissioner’s company, and that there is not, nor is there anticipated to be, any lawsuit or friction between the city and any other government agency that the commissioner’s company might work for.

Five months after the Florida Commission On Ethics found no issues with his dealings with BSO, Elberg Mike Gelin filed his legally required financial interests disclosure forms. Dubbed a Form 1, the required disclosure allows voters to know the financial interests of their elected officials.

On his 2018 Form 1 financial disclosure, Elberg Mike Gelin did not list Gelin Benefits Group’s contract with the Broward Sheriff’s Office.

GELIN’S FAILURE TO DISCLOSE TO VOTERS

Commissioner Elberg Mike Gelin appears to have a problem disclosing his business dealings to Tamarac voters. Last week, 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.

Why did Commissioner Elberg Mike Gelin fail to list BSO, Coconut Creek, Broward Clerk of Courts or Broward County Government on his 2018 or 2019 Form 1 disclosure of his financial interests?

Surely, any business owner would consider BSO, Broward County Government and the Clerk of Courts as “major” customers or clients.

Does Gelin want to keep the public from knowing about his business dealings? Again, Gelin refused to respond to questions.

When it comes to disclosures, Gelin appears to treat his fellow commissioners the same way he treats voters.

GELIN FAILS TO DISCLOSE TO COMMISSION

Earlier this month, REDBROWARD revealed Gelin failed to mention his business relationship with the City of Miramar even though the Miramar city attorney was seeking the same position with the City of Tamarac. According to public records, Gelin Benefits Group, a company owned by Commissioner Gelin, has a lucrative contract with the City of Miramar.

In 2018, the City of Miramar signed a contract for health benefits consulting with Gelin Benefits Group, Inc. The three year deal was set to expire in January 2021.

On January 27, 2021, City of Miramar officials recommended a new deal with Gelin Benefits Group. The first contract awarded $105,000 per year to Gelin Benefits Group. The new deal saw a huge 60% increase for Gelin Benefits Group.

Under the new deal, Miramar taxpayers would pay $165,000 per year to Gelin’s company as well as “$240 hourly for work on an as needed basis.”

The resolution for the new contract and the contract itself were drafted by attorneys from the Austin Pamies Norris Weeks Powell law firm.

During the May 12, 2021 city commissioner meeting, Gelin blasted Tamarac Talk and REDBROWARD for examining the candidates for the city attorney position. Similar to his recent attacks on The Sun-Sentinel, Gelin smeared stories as “propaganda” in a futile attempt to rehabilitate three of the five candidates for the position.

In April, REDBROWARD revealed one applicant, Michael Garcia, was listed as an attorney with the Austin Pamies Norris Weeks Powell law firm, another applicant for the Tamarac position. That firm was founded by former Broward Supervisor Of Elections attorney Burnadette Norris Weeks, a longtime ally of County Commissioner Dale Holness. While Holness is not listed as a professional reference, Austin Pamies Norris Weeks Powell does list Brenda Snipes.

Another of Burnadette Norris Weeks’ professional references is Miramar City Commissioner Alexandra Davis. In April, Davis joined Maxwell Chambers and Elberg Mike Gelin at Dale Holness’ campaign kickoff. In March, Alexandra Davis joined Dale Holness and Tamarac Commissioner Marlon Bolton at a party hosted by Jamaican General Consul Oliver Mair.

During his presentation at the May 12, 2021 Tamarac commission meeting, Elberg Mike Gelin stated Michael Garcia served as a subcontractor with the Austin Pamies Norris Weeks Powell law firm. Gelin said a “simple phone call” would have revealed that Garcia handled legal work for the City of Miramar on behalf of the Austin Pamies Norris Weeks Powell firm. How did Gelin know about this business arrangement? It was not included in the proposals from either firm. Gelin stated, “There’s no controversy here.”

Perhaps there was no controversy, but Gelin did not tell his fellow commissioners about his dealings with these candidates in Miramar.

On May 12th, Commissioner Elberg Mike Gelin was the lone vote against the hiring of the Fox Rothschild law firm as the new Tamarac city attorney.

Form 1 for 2020 should be filed within days.

North Lauderdale Taxpayers Will Pay For Costly Independent Investigation After Controversial Dale Holness Aide Alleges “Mistreatment” In Email To Commissioner Samson Borgelin

Samson Borgelin, left and Team Dale Holness

North Lauderdale taxpayers will pay big bucks for an independent investigation into allegations made by an aide to Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness. In a May 11, 2021 email to North Lauderdale Commissioner Samson Borgelin, former deputy city clerk Anthony Bonamy made allegations of “mistreatment” by city officials. One month earlier, the City Commission fired Bonamy after REDBROWARD exposed his role in the phony “Tamarac Post” website.

When hired for the position in December 2020, Anthony Bonamy signed a contract prohibiting any work for local candidates or politicians. REDBROWARD revealed Bonamy owned the “Tamarac Post” website which provided favorable coverage of Tamarac Commissioner Marlon Bolton and Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness.

Bolton, Commissioner Samson Borgelin and Commissioner Regina Martin pushed for the hiring of Bonamy as deputy city clerk. All three are staunch supporters of Dale Holness.

Two weeks ago, REDBROWARD revealed Bonamy was back on the public payroll.

Broward County Commission visitor logs show Dale Holness met with Anthony Bonamy on May 5th to “discuss office details.” On May 7th, Holness and Bonamy met to discuss “future items.” On May 14, 2021 Bonamy met with Holness chief of staff Heidi Richards. The log indicates Bonamy provided “documents” to Richards. Anthony Bonamy is currently listed as a Holness aide on the official Broward County Commission website.

On May 11, 2021 at 4:45pm, Bonamy sent an email detailing allegations of mistreatment to Commissioner Samson Borgelin. According to a discussion of the matter at the May 24, 2021 North Lauderdale commission meeting, Borgelin immediately shared the email with his fellow commissioners. The Commission was in the middle of a workshop when Borgelin received the email.

North Lauderdale Mayor Ana Ziade called Borgelin’s receipt of the Bonamy email “suspicious.”

BORGELIN DEMANDS SUBPOENA POWER

During the May 24th meeting, City Manager Ambreen Bhatty announced an independent investigation into Anthony Bonamy’s allegations. Bhatty stated, “At the City Commission meeting on May 11, Commissioner Borgelin forwarded to the City Commission, City Manager, City Attorney, and the Community Development Department an e- mail that he received from a terminated employee, which alleged mistreatment. The item was not on the Commission agenda for that day and was tabled until the May 25th agenda.” With the assistance of City Attorney Sam Goren, Bhatty selected local attorney Ava Gaye Hue to conduct the investigation. Hue will charge North Lauderdale taxpayers $350 per hour for her investigation.

But the hiring of an independent investigator was not good enough for Samson Borgelin. As one of Anthony Bonamy’s strongest supporters, it is not surprising that Borgelin wanted to personally conduct a witch hunt into the matter. Borgelin argued Commissioners had the power to investigate and subpoena witness. Borgelin was visibly upset that an actual attorney was hired without his explicit approval.

Borgelin demanded the email be made public by publishing it in the commission agenda. City Attorney Goren stated the email was exempt from publication. He stated Commissioners needed to protect the privacy of Bonamy as well as those Bonamy named in the email.

Did Dale Holness know Anthony Bonamy made these allegations against a City he represents?

Does Dale Holness care that residents of city he represents is spending money on allegations made by his personal aide?

Did Dale Holness know about these allegations before he hired Anthony Bonamy?

Has Dale Holness discussed this matter with Commisisoner Samson Borgelin or Commissioner Regina Martin?

Did Dale Holness play any role in the hiring of Anthony Bonamy as North Lauderdale Deputy City Clerk in November 2020?

North Lauderdale City Manager Ambreen Bhatty memo re: Anthony Bonamy