Honey, I Rigged the Vote: Broward Power Couples Screw Each Other; Then They Screw Us
|Can Ritter and Klenet hold on to the top spot on our corruption watch list?|
For all the damage these duos inflict on the public trust, I don't feel an ounce of guilt about busting out Tom Ridge's trusty Homeland Security Terrorism Alert chart. After the jump, we'll rank Broward's power couples according to the severity of their threat to good governance. (Hint: In this past week, a new couple has knocked the long-reigning king and queen from their thrones.)
And who did the Krafts knock from the top spot? Why, the Russ Klenet-Stacy Ritter tandem, of course. The lobbyist Klenet was a business associate of accused Ponzi schemer Joel Steinger, while Ritter -- then a state rep -- cast a vote on a bill that Klenet had lobbied for on Steinger's behalf. As a thank-you, Steinger paid for the couple's Parkland home to be renovated. And that's just one in the extensive Klenet-Ritter canon. They score a tad lower than Krafts, if only because the Broward State Attorney's Office investigated and -- incredibly -- cleared Ritter. But federal investigators getting comfortable in Broward may be a bit more aggressive. Corruption Threat: High.
Move just a few seats over on the Broward County Commission dais, there's Diana Wasserman-Rubin. Her husband, Richard Rubin, accepted a job with Ira Cor, a convicted felon turned land baron who wanted to win the county commission's approval for grants and real estate deals. Did Wasserman-Rubin cast votes that helped Cor's firm? You betcha! Corruption Threat: Elevated.
Now, you may ask, don't these power brokering couples have a responsibility to groom the next generation of ethically blind pols? Of course -- so kudos to Wasserman-Rubin for hiring Annie Gallagher as campaign coordinator. Annie Gallagher is the daughter of the former Broward school board member -- and now accused felon -- Beverly Gallagher. And Beverly's other daughter, Meghan Gallagher, is dating Phil Kaufold, who just happens to work for that same school district as a construction project manager. Kaufold and Meghan Gallagher may not be married (yet), but they have a pedigree that suggests they'll rise to positions of power, only to fall from grace. Corruption Threat: Guarded.
Back to that Broward County Commission; John Rodstrom we're looking at you. Specifically, we're wondering where you've stored your dirty laundry, because although you, too, reside in a powerful household -- wife Charlotte is a Fort Lauderdale Commissioner -- we're yet to discover any evidence of major ethical concern. But considering all the evidence above for corrupt marriages, can you blame us for being anxious when such influential people mate? Corruption Threat: Low.
Meanwhile, past Broward's northern border, the corruption by spouses has already bloomed, hasn't it, McCarty family?