Hallandale Beach Mayor Keith London Gave Lobbyist “Green Light” To Leak Recording Of Bill Julian To Reporter

In August 2016, WPLG Local 10 investigative reporter Bob Norman broadcast a political bombshell. Norman reported Hallandale Beach Commissioner Bill Julian made a recording admitting to take bribes from a local developer. According the Channel 10 story, Bill Julian called a number associated with a robo-call attacking him.

On one of Julian’s calls, he apparently failed to hang up his phone and inadvertently left behind an audio recording of a private conversation. Local 10 News obtained a copy of the recording, which appears to contain damning admissions from Julian. It begins with Julian explaining his vote against the park.

Hallandale Beach Commissioner Keith London, a staunch foe of Julian, was outraged. He called for an immediate investigation by the Broward State Attoney’s Office. London told Bob Norman, “It certainly sounds like a bribe. Bill Julian, on your audio recording, certainly sounds to me like he’s admitting taking a bribe for two things — 300 campaign workers and a van.”

Just one problem. London learned about the Julian recording five months earlier. And even though he believed a crime may have been committed, Keith London never contacted law enforcement.

Why? Politics.

LONDON GIVES SWORN TESTIMONY TO BROWARD STATE ATTORNEY

In October 2017, Bill Julian was cleared by the Broward State Attorney’s Office. The Sun-Sentinel reported, “‘There is absolutely no evidence that Commissioner Julian ever received any improper payment or benefit of any kind’ from the developer or his attorney, Assistant State Attorney David Schulson says in a memo dated Oct. 23.” But the damage had been done. Bill Julian lost his seat in the November 2016 to political newcomer Anabelle Taub.

On February 20, 2017, Commissioner Keith London, accompanied by his attorney David Di Pietro, spoke under oath with Assistant State Attorney David Schulson. In his sworn testimony, London states he made a “politically expedient” decision to keep the Bill Julian recording a secret until after the August 2016 primaries.

Keith London admitted learning of the recording from lobbyist Evan Ross shortly after the robo-call was made on March 3, 2016. When asked why he did not take action in March 2016 London said, “Because it would have gotten buried and instead it was a news conference and Bob Norman made a great story. After Bob Norman, now it’s front page news.” London stated Evan Ross gave the recording to Bob Norman.

Schulson asked if there was a “strategic meeting with Evan Ross, as to when he should turn it over to Bob Norman?” London replied, “Correct.” London said he gave Ross the “green light” to release recording to Norman after the August 2016 primary.

When asked why they chose Norman, London testified, “Bob loves Hallandale.”

London stated they never considered any other reporter.

EVAN ROSS GIVES SWORN STATEMENT TO BROWARD STATE ATTORNEY

On March 3, 2017, lobbyist Evan Ross testified under oath to Assistant State Attorney David Schulson. Ross testified for more than two hours to details surrounding his relationship with Hallandale Beach Commissioners Keith London and Michele Lazarow, his political committees funded by Gulfstream Park, his robo-call targeting former Commissioner Bill Julian and the recordings of Julian as well as the decision to release the recordings to WPLG reporter Bob Norman. As REDBROWARD previously reported, numerous PACs operated by Evan Ross have supported Hallandale Beach Commissioners London, Lazarow and Anabelle Taub.

When asked who came up with idea to attack Bill Julian with the robo-call, Evan Ross testified, ” I had the discussion–I know I had it with Commissioner London. I believe I may have shared it with Commissioner Lazarow….But it was primarily with Commissioner London.” Ross stated he wrote the script for the call and shared it with Commissioner London.

The night the robo-call went out, Ross noticed there was a voicemail in “the system.” When he listened to the call, he “quickly identified it was Bill Julian’s voice talking to someone.” The following day, Ross claimed he found more voicemails. He testified he noticed the calls came from a “particular phone number that I saw repeatedly.”

Evan Ross stated he told Commissioner Keith London about the Julian recordings the same day he discovered them.

Ross testified he “advised Commissioner London and Commissioner Lazarow…to come to my home and told them that I felt it was of great importance.” Both Commissioners came to Ross’ house. Once there, he played ten recordings of Bill Julian.

Even though Ross says they were in “utter shock,” the three agreed not to do anything with the recordings. Ross stated, “[W]e all agreed that we should not make a decision on what to do with it sight unseen. And that we should take a little time.”

Ross said, “Discussion ensued primarily with Commissioner London and I, where I came up with the idea to ultimately turn the tape over to Bob Norman.” He said they would wait until late July or early August before giving recording to Norman.

Assistant State Attorney Schulson asked, “So you, on your own and through your discussions with Commissioner London, made a strategic political decision to hold onto this recorded conversation…until after qualifying in June of 2016?”

Ross tried to claim London left the ultimate decision to release up to him. Schulson asked if would surprise Ross if Commissioner London testified under oath that London was the one who gave the “green light” to release tape to Bob Norman? Ross simply said, “Oh, we certainly discussed it.”

When asked if he would have released it if Keith London instructed him not to, Ross said, “I certainly would have listened.”

POLITICAL DIRTY TRICK?

Even both claim they suspected a crime had been committed, Keith London and Evan Ross admitted they made a political decision to withhold the Julian recordings. They admitted they wanted to make sure the story affected the November 2016 election. Under oath, Evan Ross said Keith London was the unpaid campaign manager of Bill Julian’s opponent. More to come…

TV Commercial Hits Broward Commissioner Dale Holness On Phony Residency Claims

A clever new commercial from State Senator Chris Smith hits controversial Broward County Commissioner Dale V.C. Holness on his phony residency claims. Both men are seeking the District 9 seat on the Broward County Commission. Three years ago, this reporter exposed Holness’ false claims to reside in the district he represents. The evidence showed Holness lived outside the district he represents, though Article II, Section 2.01 A(3) of the Broward County Charter clearly states each commissioner “must be a resident of the particular district upon election.”

Holness claimed he lived in a run-down Lauderhill townhouse near the Florida Turnpike.

In May 2013, records from the Broward County Supervisor of Elections (SOE), stated Holness was registered to vote within District 9 by claiming to live in a small, older 940-square foot townhome in the Royal Oaks townhome development at 2630 N.W. 52nd Avenue in Lauderhill. Property records from the Broward County Property Appraiser (BCPA) show Holmes owns the small home but does not list it as his primary residence for his homestead tax exemption.

Property records listed the mailing address for Holness’ home as 4325 West Sunrise Blvd in Lauderhill. This is the business address for All Broward Realty, Inc., a company owned by Holness.

As Media Trackers Florida reported, the 2006 Central Lauderhill Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) master plan shows Lauderhill officials targeted the Royal Oaks for a dramatic makeover funded by federal and state grants. The plan says Royal Oaks is in “disrepair and in need of landscaping upkeep.” The entire neighborhood was part of an ambitious plan to build parks and improve roads and sewers. The Royal Oaks neighborhood was “identified as properties suitable for acquisition, demolition and redevelopment[.]”

As vice mayor of Lauderhill in 2006, Holness wrote the Central Lauderhill CRA master plan. Florida Department of State records show Holness has been an official of the Royal Oaks Condominium Association since 2000.

One month after our story, Bob Norman of Local 10 News visited Holness’ townhouse. Norman described the unit as, “A small run-down housing unit in Lauderhill stacked to the ceiling with furniture and boxes. A realtor’s locked box hangs from the door knob. The refrigerator isn’t plugged in and its door is wide open.”

“Nobody lives there,” said Herbert Fray, a handyman who tends the yards there.

Seeking answers, Bob Norman visited Holness at the Broward Government Center.

“Well, sir, we went to that home and there’s no way you live there. Do you live in your district?” asked Local 10 investigative reporter Bob Norman.

“I do,” Holness replied before leaving without answering any more questions.

Since those reports, Holness and his wife have moved to a home in the upscale Plantation neighborhood surrounding the Fort Lauderdale Country Club.

SMITH COMMERCIAL TAKES ON RESIDENCY

Chris Smith’s new ad takes on Holness’ residency issue by giving viewers a tour of all the places Smith has lived. Smith visits the homes he grew up in, the schools he attended and the home he currently lives in with his family. Smith points out that all of these homes are located in District 9.

Perry Thurston Campaign Spends Money on Perry Thurston & His Family

courtesy SFLTimes.com
courtesy SFLTimes.com

According to State of Florida campaign records, Perry Thurston’s State Senate campaign spends most of its money on Perry Thurston and his family members. Facing term limits in the Florida House, Thurston has been running for the District 31 Senate seat since 2013. Thurston is running against fellow Democrat Fl. Rep. Gwyndolen “Gwyn” Clarke-Reed.

According to the Florida Department of Elections, since January 2013, Thurston has raised nearly $55,000 for his State Senate campaign. Not surprisingly, as the minority leader of the Florida House, most of Thurston’s campaign contributions came from special interest groups and political action committees. As of August 2015, the Thurston campaign has spent $26,156.37 of his contributions.

The records show the overwhelming majority of the money was paid to Thurston and his wife Dawn. Since 2013, the campaign has paid $6,923.04 to Dawn Thurston. The campaign stated the expenditures were made for “canvassing,” “meals,” “campaign supplies,” “campaign expences [sic],” and “campaign expendatures [sic].” Since March 2015, Mrs. Thurston has received $5,071.61 from her husband’s campaign.

Campaign records show multiple payments to Perry Thurston, Floyd Thurston and Frances Merricks. In April 2013, this reporter exposed Perry Thurston’s residency games involving Frances Merricks’ Fort Lauderdale home. Thurston claimed to be living with a convicted felon in Merricks’ small home, rather than with his wife and children in the two-story home he owns in Plantation, in order to meet elected officials’ residency requirements in the Florida Constitution.

The Florida Constitution requires state legislators to live in the districts they represent. Thurston, a lawyer, represented House District 94. Broward County Property Appraiser records show Thurston, the Democratic Minority Leader of the Florida House of Representatives, owns a two-story home with Dawn Thurston in Plantation which lies in Florida House District 99.

Thurston’s 2012 campaign treasurer’s reports show he paid Frances Merricks $4,770 for “campaign headquarters rent.”  Thurston’s 2012 campaign headquarters was located at a Fort Lauderdale liquor store owned by Frances Merricks and Floyd Thurston.

Records show Thurston spent $6,165.74 on “other distributions.” Most of the expenses covered gas purchases and meals.

In stark contrast, Clarke-Reed has raised just $1,465 since joining the race in June. This amount includes a $1,000 loan to the campaign by Clarke-Reed. The rest of her contributions are small donations made by local supporters.