“SHADY DEAL”: Pompano Beach Commissioner Blasts $265K Payout To Broward “Political Pimp”

Calling it “insanity” run amok, Pompano Beach Commissioner Michael Sobel blasted a deal to pay $265,000 to a city activist some call a “Political Pimp.” At Tuesday’s City Commission meeting, Sobel was the lone voice questioning the plan to pay the legal fees Vicente Thrower racked up following his April 2010 arrest on bribery and unlawful compensation charges.

In 2014, a Broward jury found Vincente Thrower not guilty on three of the charges. During the trial, attorney Michael Hursey argued Thrower was not a public official under Florida law. The jury bought his defense that he was a mere volunteer not a public servant capable of accepting unlawful compensation.

In March 2015, REDBROWARD reported Thrower wanted the Pompano Beach Community Redevelopment Association (CRA) to pay his $478,000 legal bill. In a letter to the Pompano Beach commission, his attorney Hursey painted Thrower as a victim of false criminal charges. He wrote, “Thrower just completed a very difficult 4 1/2 year journey, living under the shadow of charges which were ultimately proved false.” He said Pompano Beach paying for the legal fees would “put Mr. Thrower on the road to restoring the enormous loss he suffered when fighting these unfounded charges.”

THROWER’S VOLUNTARY STATEMENT TO LAW ENFORCEMENT

Even though a Broward jury failed to convict him, Vicente Thrower admitted many of the details in a February 2010 sworn statement to the Broward State Attorney.

Thrower admitted working for developers with business before Pompano Beach. These developers,which included Cornerstone, Habitat For Humanity, Pompano Beach Living LLC, and Lavish Homes, paid thousands of dollars to Thrower. He never disclosed his contractual relationships.

Thrower also admitted speaking with the FBI regarding his dealings with notorious developers Bruce and Shawn Chait.

SHADY DEAL

One the final items at Tuesday’s Pompano Beach City Commission meeting was the deal to pay $265,000 to Thrower for legal fees. City Manager Greg Harrison said he negotiated the deal with Thrower and his attorney in a effort to avoid more legal costs and to protect future Pompano Beach volunteers. Mayor Lamar Fisher and most Commissioners bought into Harrison’s laughable rationale.

Michael Sobel wasn’t buying it.

In a stunning ten minute presentation, Sobel said, “Off all the shenanigans that I’ve seen and heard since getting elected, this one ranks toward the top.” Echoing a sermon he heard in church, he said the deal was “one giant muddy fountain.” Sobel said by accepting the deal the Commission was “being asked to reward a local resident…for his bad and likely unethical behavior.”

Sobel said, “[Thrower] needs to be responsible for his own actions.”

Commissioner Sobel said the deal was first mentioned a week earlier as a “surprise add-on” to the CRA meeting agenda. He said the deal was not properly vetted. Sobel warned it was unclear how much of the money would actually go to Thrower himself.

Are the residents paying attention,” Sobel asked. “This is a shady deal!”

Sobel said he did not care about warnings his opposition to this deal would hurt his campaign for mayor. He said the deal shows, “Some people get special deals while the residents as a whole suffer. The leaders of the Northwest should think hard about that.”

Oakland Park Commission Candidate Scott Herman’s Odd Electoral Past

Scott Herman, right, and spouse all hugs with Charlie Crist
Scott Herman, right, and spouse all hugs with Charlie Crist

Perennial Republican-turned-Democrat candidate Scott Herman wants a seat on the City of Oakland Park Commission. A few years ago, Republican Scott Herman challenged Perry Thurston in a Florida House race. Then, Herman became a Democrat challenger to State Rep. George Moraitis of Fort Lauderdale. No matter the race, Herman’s campaigns are filled with oddities.

In August 2013, this reporter detailed Herman’s purchase of a bulletproof vest with campaign funds.

Campaign records filed with the Florida Division of Elections show the Herman campaign paid $538.06 for a “protective vest” from Federal Eastern International on May 7, 2013. The Herman campaign provided contradictory reasons for the questionable use of campaign funds.

The Herman campaign attacked the initial report of the purchase as a “cowardly approach to journalism.” Herman claimed the purchase was tied to an anonymous threat made on his campaign website in July of 2012. At the time, Herman was a Republican candidate challenging House Minority Leader Perry E. Thurston, Jr. for the District 93 seat.

In a press release the campaign said, “It is because of this threat, and the current hostility towards the LGBT Community that our campaign [has] taken a proactive approach by purchasing a bullet proof vest. This vest was imperative for the safety and welfare of a candidate. The purchase was additionally made with funds Scott Herman loaned to his own campaign, not at all using any donated funds.”

Before the statement was released, however, the Herman campaign gave a different rationale for the bulletproof vest purchase.

In an interview with the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Herman campaign manager Tony Diaz said Herman bought the vest with personal funds because “he goes hunting and he bought it for personal safety.”

When advised that state records documented the purchase was made with campaign funds, “Diaz called Herman and called me back, this time explaining that the past threat prompted the purchase,” the Sun-Sentinel reported. “Diaz called back later to add that Herman said ‘because of the current climate that’s building more hostility toward gays, he wanted to be proactive.’”

The Herman campaign bristled at the news a former campaign aide also purchased a bulletproof vest with campaign funds. Just days after leaving the Herman campaign, Christopher Warnig announced his bid for a Broward County Commission seat. Even though he raised less than $500, Warnig listeda $255.44 expenditure for “protective apparel” purchased from NATMIL (National Military Armament, LLC). The Arkansas company specializes in small weapons and bulletproof vests.

The Herman campaign claims it fired Warnig after it learned Warnig had been arrested twice for impersonating a police officer. Warnig shot back with a lengthy press release attacking Herman’s Republican roots and support of the National Rifle Association (NRA).  Warnig claims he quit after he was “never rewarded for the long, exhausting hours he put into the Scott Herman Campaign.”

Warnig would later run for a spot on the Oakland Park commission.

During his campaign against Moraitis, Herman retained a Hooters waitress as an image consultant. On Herman’s official website, Natalee Toledo is listed as the campaign “image consultant.” Most candidates for state and local office do not list campaign staff, let alone “image consultants.”

However, the most damaging issue uncovered by this reporter dealt with Scott Herman’s political resume.

Scott Herman appears to be fudging his resume regarding his past political history in North Carolina.

Until moving to Broward County in 2009, Herman was a resident of Cabarrus county, North Carolina. According to his official campaign website, Herman held the elected office of  “Cabarrus County Board, Vice Chairman of the Board, At-Large.”

Just to the east of Charlotte, North Carolina, Cabarrus County is governed by a “five-member Board of Commissioners elected at large in countywide elections to serve staggered four-year terms.”

When asked if Herman had served on the Board of Commissioners, a Cabarrus County spokeperson told Media Trackers Florida, “No, [Herman] was never a commissioner.” The spokesperson said Herman had only served on the Cabarrus County Soil and Water Conservation District.  The spokesperson said the Cabarrus Soil and Water Conservation District is never referred to as the “County Board.”

The official minutes from the June 2003 meeting of the Cabarrus County Board of Commissioners state Scott Herman is “vice chairman of the Cabarrus Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisors.”

But in this August 2012 video interview with Broward County Republican Chairman Richard DeNapoli, Herman recounts his Cabarrus political resume. Herman said, “[I] ran for and became elected to the countywide seat there in Cabarrus county, which I ended up serving as vice chairman of that board.”

Last week, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel detailed the campaign funds Herman spent to explain his switch from the Republican party. The story, in which Herman is heavily quoted, mentions his previous career in North Carolina.

“Previously an elected member of the countywide Board of Supervisors in Cabarrus County, N.C., for four years, he moved to Broward in December 2009,” the Sun-Sentinel asserted.

In October 2012, a Sun-Sentinel story on Herman’s race against House Minority Leader Perry E. Thurston, Jr. (D-Fort Lauderdale) said “Herman has no Florida political experience, but he served a four-year term as an elected commissioner for Cabarrus County in North Carolina. He moved to Florida in 2009.”

Last week, Media Trackers Florida reported on the questions surrounding Herman’s purchase of a bulletproof with campaign funds. Campaign records filed with the Florida Division of Elections show the Herman campaign paid $538.06 for a “protective vest” from Federal Eastern International on May 7, 2013. The Herman campaign provided contradictory reasons for the questionable use of campaign funds.

The Herman campaign did not respond to requests for comment for this story.

Herman is running against Commissioner Michael Carn and Layne Walls.