Ritter Has Date in Tallahassee Over Election Allegations

Categories: Politics

I hate to say it, but James Stokes -- the new School Board attorney who quit this morning before he even started -- probably made a good decision.

Who would want to jump into the dysfunctional soup that is the Broward County School Board?

It's a little surprising that he decided it "didn't feel right," as he told the Sun-Sentinel. After all, isn't this the School Board that wanted to give outgoing attorney Ed Marko a $266,000 parting gift?

Sounds like a cush job to me.  

ritterstacy.jpg
Ritter's been a little out of focus lately.
-- Looks like Broward County Commissioner Stacy Ritter, who missed the most important meeting of the year while apparently in Tallahassee with her daughter, may be making another trip up to Tallahassee this week. One thing is for sure, her Tallahassee lawyer, everywhere man Mark Herron, will be doing some work on her behalf.  

The Florida Elections Commission, after a yearlong investigation, has scheduled a probable-cause hearing for in a case brought against Ritter by Hollywood attorney and political activist Brenda Chalifour. The hearing, during which the commission will decide whether to move forward with the case, is set for Wednesday morning at 9:45 a.m. in the Senate Office Building.  

The complaint raises serious questions about unreported contributions -- nearly $40,000 in missing money. It alleges that Ritter's campaign raised $206,755 yet spent only $168,845.32, leaving $37,909.68 unaccounted for. The campaign paid Ritter's husband, lobbyist Russ Klenet, a total of $14,787.72. Although Ritter lists herself as her own campaign treasurer on county forms, sources say Klenet managed Ritter's campaign money. Ritter also received more than $5,000 in expenditures herself.

Will report on the outcome.

Inside, watch how I put to bed any notion that Broward County Mayor Ken Keechl was a victim of anything than his own dubious performance in office and during the race with Chip LaMarca. Added bonus: It involves Ron Klein, the always exciting outgoing congressman!

Well, there he goes again.

Broward County Mayor Ken Keechl's campaign manager, Eric Johnson, was out peddling the idea that the campaign meant nothing and that Keechl, rather than alienating voters with his poor leadership and borderline corruption, was simply a victim of cruel fate in last week's election loss to Chip LaMarca.

``This was the year that campaigns didn't matter,'' Johnson told the Miami Herald in a story that followed my election findings last week. "It only mattered what their party registration was."

I thought I put that spurious -- if not scurrilous -- notion to bed last week when I showed that Democrat Alex Sink carried Keechl's district and that more than 3,000 Sink voters decided to give Keechl the high hat and vote for either LaMarca or, more likely, the third candidate in the race, Chris Chiari.

Apparently not. So let's bring out another Johnson quote from last week. In trying to support his false theory, he told me that Democratic Congressman Ron Klein had been "trounced" in Keechl's district.

Well, guess what? A look at the precincts shared by Klein and Keechl shows that Klein also outperformed Keechl. In 20 districts that I analyzed this afternoon (the A, B, and D precincts, for you playing along at home), Klein whooped Keechl with 5,277 votes to Keechl's 4,592. That's about 20 percent of the vote. And just looking at the numbers, it's a pattern that was very consistent in those shared districts.

Extrapolate that margin districtwide and it's an indication that Klein too would have carried Keechl's district.

Of course, Klein had an advantage -- he didn't have a third-party candidate in the race like Chiari who ran a credible campaign and picked up most of those Sink voters who abandoned Keechl.

It's certainly more proof that, had he been a popular candidate rather than a blemished one and had Chiari not been there to collect the dissident vote, Keechl would still be sitting on the commission dais.  

Once again, Keechl is what did Keechl in. Case closed.


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