Two weeks ago, REDBROWARD shared video footage of Fort Lauderdale Mayor candidate Kenneth Cooper violating electioneering laws at the Coral Ridge Mall early voting location. Cooper, a seasoned Democrat candidate, approached voters at the entrance of the mall in violation of the 150 foot zone determined by Supervisor of Elections officials. A concerned resident confronted Cooper three times before returning with an elections office employee.
Cooper claimed ignorance. One day later, members of Cooper’s campaign mocking the rule in videos posted on Facebook.
Now, Kenneth Cooper appears to be violating another important part of the Florida elections rulebook.
Before accessing the main website, visitors to Kenneth Cooper’s online site are met with a screen asking for a campaign contribution. Visitors are asked how much they want to contribute, if they wish to make it an ongoing contribution and whether they wish to use a credit card, PayPal or Apple Pay.
Just one problem.
Florida law prohibits accepting and using campaign contributions this close to election day.
Appeals for campaign contributions were supposed to end October 29th at midnight. It’s spelled out on page 29 of the Florida candidate rule handbook.
As of October 31, Kenneth Cooper’s official website is asking for campaign money.
A politician switching parties to win an election is the very first lesson in the Broward political playbook. Plenty of South Florida Democrats won their elections after spending years as loyal Republicans (see Stark,Rick). But when it comes to switching parties, Fort Lauderdale Mayoral candidate Kenneth Cooper is the all-time champ.
Three years ago, REDBROWARD revealed how Commissioner Bruce Roberts left the Republican Party when he ran for mayor against Dean Trantalis a longtime Democrat. Roberts’ move failed to impress Democrat voters and fellow Republicans felt snubbed over the blatant political maneuver.
Now, Kenneth Cooper is the sole challenger of Mayor Dean Trantalis.
Cooper used to be a Democrat.
In 1992, Kenneth Cooper ran against Congressman Alcee Hastings in the Democrat primary. Cooper lost.
In 1996, Democrat Kenneth Cooper was badly beaten by Congressman E. Clay Shaw, a Republican Party stalwart.
In 1998, Democrat Kenneth Cooper lost another race, this time a FL State House race to Democrat Tim Ryan.
After his third drubbing as a Democrat, Kenneth Cooper joined the Republican Party.
In 2003, Republican Kenneth Cooper ran in a special election for a Florida State House seat. Cooper told the Sun-Sentinel, he was “the most moderate Republican in the group” of candidates in the race. Cooper lost to Ellyn Bogdanoff.
If voters checked open sourced voter information, Kenneth Cooper is a member of the Republican Party.
But, according to State of Florida voter registration records, Kenneth Cooper is back to being a Democrat.
A Fort Lauderdale political operative tells REDBROWARD the Cooper campaign expenditure likely covers use of the NGP VAN system. According to POLITICO:
“Nearly every Democratic campaign across the U.S. uses NGP VAN in some fashion, though critics say that’s due in some part to the fact that the DNC and state Democratic parties force candidates do so as part of the package of receiving party support. The arrangement leaves it up to the Democratic Party to decide which campaigns get access to the software, giving it an enormous gatekeeping power….”
The Fort Lauderdale operative told us only Democrats can use NGP VAN.
Did Kenneth Cooper really switch parties over a voter information database?
Did Kenneth Cooper could pull the Charlie Crist “The Party Left Me” excuse. Perhaps Kenneth Cooper is no fan of President Trump.
A representative for the campaign told REDBROWARD Cooper switched parties online a few months ago. Cooper could not remember the exact date.
Yet, in July, Kenneth Cooper attended two events with local Republican leaders including the head of the Americans For Trump (AFT) organization in Broward. Cooper even attended a socially-distanced AFT dinner at the Signature Grand in Davie.
Will Democrats welcome Cooper back with open arms after attending paid Trump club events? Will Trump supporters vote for someone who abandoned the party right before a big election?