Exclusive: Feds Eyeing Lobbyist Ron Book, Fort Lauderdale Housing Authority

In Broward and Tallahassee politics, influence peddling comes in countless forms. Here's one currently under investigation by the federal government:

A powerful lobbyist, seeking to curry favor with a state senator and benefit a major client, helps to secure the senator's boyfriend a job at the development firm the lobbyist represents. The boyfriend also happens to be a Housing Authority honcho who goes on to oversee two new multimillion-dollar publicly financed projects with the very developer who hired him.

bookzo.jpg
Book, left, with Alonzo Mourning.
This is one scenario that sources say the FBI is currently investigating as part of a major probe that involves recently convicted GOP fundraiser and lobbyist Alan Mendelsohn, who had deep ties to numerous politicians, including former Gov. Charlie Crist, former Senate President Ken Pruitt, embattled Congressman David Rivera, and state Sen. Eleanor Sobel. The same federal investigation also involves several figures from the massive Mutual Benefits Corp. Ponzi scheme, including MBC fraudster Joel Steinger, who is awaiting trial on federal charges himself.

Here are the players in the scenario:   

The lobbyist: Ron Book, who represents a host of governments, including Broward County, and private clients, including the Miami Dolphins, as perhaps the most powerful lobbyist in Florida

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Dawson
The senator: Muriel "Mandy" Dawson, a controversial Democratic legislator who was term-limited from office in 2008. She has longstanding close ties to Book and was implicated in federal court records with having received $87,000 in secret payments from Mendelsohn through her former Senate aide, Veronica Blakely.  

The boyfriend: Scott Strawbridge, director of development and facilities at the Fort Lauderdale Housing Authority. Strawbridge began dating Dawson in 2006, and they have since broken up.

The firm: Miami-based Carlisle Development Group, which built the $16 million Housing Authority project at Dixie Court and is slated to demolish and redevelop Dr. Kennedy Homes, the historic public housing development on the south side of Broward Boulevard. That project calls for another $21 million in federal funds. Heading Carlisle is Lloyd Boggio, the former principal of the Cornerstone Group, another major player in the government-subsidized affordable housing industry.

Inside, see what Book and Strawbridge had to say about the allegations.

When Book was asked if he helped secure Dawson's boyfriend a job with any of his clients, the mega-lobbyist immediately denied it.

"I never hired the boyfriend, that would be a misstatement of any fact," he said.

Thumbnail image for mendelsohn.jpg
Mendelsohn
When asked if he caused a client of his to hire Strawbridge, he answered: "No not ever. There was a time at which [Strawbridge] worked in the affordable housing world. It was a long time ago and he did work for someone that I represented but not through any involvement of me in any way, shape, or form."

Book claimed he couldn't even remember the name of the client that hired Strawbridge. Another allegation that has surfaced is that Book financed a home in Tallahassee for Dawson, an accusation Book flatly denies.

His close relationship with Dawson, however, is a matter of public record. In 2005 he was one of three lobbyists (including Mendelsohn) who ponied up $2,500 to help finance a trip for Dawson to South Africa via the Florida Caucus of Black State Legislators. The Senate reprimanded Dawson -- who was also charged criminally in 2002 for prescription pill fraud as a result of addiction -- and removed her from the Ethics and Elections Committee. 

"Mandy had whatever personal issues and I knew Mandy before she was in the process," said Book. "I haven't talked to her and don't know where she is."

Public records indicate Dawson is now living with her parents in Daytona Beach. I was unable to contact her for this report.   

strawbridgescott.jpg
Strawbridge
In the course of my investigation, I learned that the Book client that had hired Strawbridge was the Carlisle Development Group, which had hired the lobbyist to help it gain multi-million dollar public housing contracts with various governmental bodies, including the Broward County Housing Authority. Currently, Book's representation of the firm is a matter of great controversy in North Miami, where Carlisle is vying for a contract to redevelop Biscayne Landing. Book has been lobbying council members on behalf of the firm despite the fact that he's also the paid lobbyist for North Miami, the Miami Herald reported earlier this week.

When Strawbridge, , a former Fort Lauderdale contractor who has fought to preserve historic city sites like the Stranahan House, was questioned yesterday about his employment with Carlisle, he denied that Book got him the job. "I never got a job from Ron Book," Strawbridge said. "The FBI knows that and now you know that too. ... I never met Ron Book, I spoke with him once on the telephone."

Strawbridge said he doesn't remember what the two discussed on the phone, but acknowledged the phone introduction was made by Dawson, his girlfriend at the time.

He describes a tangled web of employment, admitting that there were concerns about a potential conflict of interest. He said he got the job with the Housing Authority before he began dating Dawson in 2006. After he and Dawson began dating, he got the job as a consultant for Carlisle Development Group and "worked with both entities helping them form a new business venture."

dixie1.jpg
Carlisle Development Group
The Dixie Court project
While Carlisle employed Strawbridge, the firm won two bids in competition with other firms worth roughly $40 million with the Fort Lauderdale Housing Authority, at Dixie Court and Dr. Kennedy Homes. On its website, Carlisle touts its completed work at Dixie Court. The Dr. Kennedy Homes project -- which will replace 45 cottages with 132 apartment units -- has been met with controversy and has yet to break ground. 

Strawbridge said that while he worked with Carlisle on Housing Authority project, he was also paid by the firm for consulting work on the Royalton Hotel renovation project in Miami. Carlisle transformed the Royalton into housing for low-income people and the recently homeless.

"It was kind of a simultaneous thing," Strawbridge said. "I was then working as an independent consultant with both [the Housing Authority and Carlisle]. I was acting as the owner's rep for the Housing Authority interfacing with Carlisle. I was acting in the interest of the Housing Authority. What happened is Carlisle needed my help and I ended up becoming engaged with them in a project called Royalton. We took a 1920s hotel and turned it into transition housing for homeless people."

He said that Housing Authority attorneys cleared him to work for Carlisle.

I went to the Housing Authority and said, 'I already pledged my allegiance, so how do we do this?'" he said. "They put together some kind of document that allowed it."

The matter was never brought to the attention of the Florida Commission on Ethics for an opinion, he said. While he alluded to communication with FBI agents, he refused to provide details. He said he and Dawson ended their romantic relationship in 2008 and that he never gave her anything of value connected to his job with Carlisle.

"I don't know what to say about these allegations except that they are astonishing to me," said Strawbridge. "All along, the reason I've been helping the Housing Authority is that I live in Fort Lauderdale and folks involved in running the agency happened to know that I was available. ... Did I make a mistake by knowing all these poeple at the same time? Yeah. But I was already engaged in that job before I ran into Mandy and she's my only connection to Ron Book."

The federal investigation, according to numerous sources, is continuing.


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North Royalton homes for sale
North Royalton homes for sale

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CleanFace
CleanFace

Wow.  Not sure how I missed this but I've worked withStrawbridge and his engagement with Carlisle all makes sense now. Based on myexperience Strawbridge is seedy and often emotionally unstable. Compellingly, I probably know too much and could help this investigation.  On the other hand, Ron Book is pretty amazingat what he does…

cfcamerica.org
cfcamerica.org

The boys in charge of Florida will always cover the arses of their Boyz...If you think Ron Book will ever see prison or anything like that.. you are mistaken... the whole state of Florida takes care of their own... just look at the power of some of their good ole boyz...Mark Lunsford.. caught with a computer used for child porn.. never charged.Mark Foley, Congressman.. caught in sexual conversations with little boys under him.. was able to TELL THE FBI THEY CANNOT LOOK AT HIS COMPUTERS....

And the list goes on....... Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely... Money follows Money...

Only when the People rise up against all the corruption and oust all who are in power now will this nation regain what it once was...

The corruption has reached the top.. the corrupt own America.Nothing will change.

Frankie
Frankie

How come Justin Sayfies's new blog -The Florida Clarion- inst covering the Book matter ?

PlayItAgainSam
PlayItAgainSam

Pulp & Pulpsters:

There are some real problems - Look @ the Town of Davie & Carlisle Group. It still is amazing that the FEDS & the State lf FL have "tapp danced" all over Broward County and some municipalities, but have ignored the MOST CORRUPT of all for years-Town of Davie with the "hometown boys" - Forman, Bergeron, Stiles, Bob Legg, and on and on...

The Carlisle Group just got the "Approval" of Town of Davie Council for a "MAJOR"Affordable Housing Project (former Ehlinger Apartments) granting them all kinds of perks including WAIVING Fees, etc.ON SEPT. 7, 2010_

http://www.davie-fl.gov/Gen/Da...

TITLE OF AGENDA ITEM: WAIVER - A RESOLUTION OF THE TOWN OFDAVIE, FLORIDA AUTHORIZING THE WAIVER OF IMPACT FEES IN THEAMOUNT OF $35,000.00 OF THE $74,417.30 CURRENTLY DUE FOR THE NEWCONSTRUCTION OF THE EHLINGER APARTMENTS FOR 155 AFFORDABLEHOUSING UNITS BY THE CARLISLE DEVELOPMENT GROUP INPARTNERSHIP WITH THE BROWARD COUNTY HOUSING AUTHORITY ANDPROVIDING FOR AN EFFECTIVE DATE.

Guest
Guest

Good Morning All!I don't understand why Cupid was chosen to represent Valentine's Day. When I think about romance, the last thing on my mind is a short, chubby toddler coming at me with a weapon. ~Author UnknownEnjoy your Day.

anon33024
anon33024

Does anyone know how to get the American Greed Scott Rothstein episode that ran on Friday?

Parkland man
Parkland man

Hey linda when was the last time u got laid,what are u an ulgy lawyer,sounds to me that you like to defend shit birds,or do you steal from companys,you see when it comes to my company and some sb lawyer tries to sue us or steal from us i put them out of buineses,you see one sb move deserive's another,we always let the sb lawyer go first and then they are sorry after that,go fuck yourself.

MSLGWCEO
MSLGWCEO

Karma is a b----! It will catch up with you, sooner or later.

cindermaggi
cindermaggi

Louis,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,trust me on this........................cindermaggi .....................would know.............................if it was in:)

Ind_Thinker
Ind_Thinker

"The senator: Muriel "Mandy" Dawson, a controversial Democratic legislator who was term-limited from office in 2008."

That's all the proof I need that term limits work.

Bev Gallagher, Cindi Hutchison, etc . . .are small potatoes, so those are easy. I don't think Mr. Book has to fear an indictment any time soon.

cindermaggi
cindermaggi

well when dean marco was running 4 office he said sterling chitbreath thrush tongue was his lawyer!!!! omg im sorry thought i was in orlando blog lol.............................

unowho
unowho

Did Poitier get busted this week ??? Damn should have made that bet with Dimwit Timmy!!!

unowho
unowho

What the heck No Arrests today !!! Love this Cool Crazy Canadian weather eh!!!

Model Citizen
Model Citizen

Did you guys notice how the chemtrails made the temperature drop more than 20 degrees over the last two days?

Guest
Guest

Good Morning All!Can we really believe anything that comes out of their mouths? I go by Reagan's famous saying "Trust but verify"Measure the corn of others with your own bushel. Yiddish ProverbEnjoy the day!

KennyPowersSays
KennyPowersSays

Oh boy. More cases of people not remembering. I must be special, since I can remember conversations, happenings details and events going back to early childhood. These people think we are so stupid that we will accept their memory losses as their defense. If I had so many contacts and was prone to memory loss, I would probably keep a daily diary/log. Oh, that's right, I already do that with business matters.

Nucky Thompson
Nucky Thompson

Would be funny if Ron got sent to the same jail as Alan. On the bright side he could always say he heard Mendelsohn's last movement.

ygftin
ygftin

You should get a job writing for Family Circus, your wit is that "good"!

Guest
Guest

My understanding it's to air on 2/23 Wednesday

Linda
Linda

You're still an ignorant illiterate SLUG!

cindermaggi
cindermaggi

AM I MISSING SOMETHING THAT YOU KEEP POSTING VIDEO?

unowho
unowho

Sorry Btan I dont see any negativity or problem with what I heard in his closing speech just reallity on the forever accumulating debt..Everyone voted in by the people deserve a chance to rebuild this State and country.I also think Rick Scott is on the right track and is a little overzealous but he will learn from his mistakes and correct them !!!..."Lets Get To Work"

Guest
Guest

God help us is very true! We can't let there right wing extremists think they have control. Our country went through a horrible period where we had to fight for justice and civil liberties. We can't go back to those times.

Anonymous
Anonymous

Give it a rest girlie. Your a major TURNOFF!

louie
louie

What did cindermaggi say to King Kong?

Is it in yet?

Al Roker
Al Roker

Acts like it's almost like it's fucking winter.

Goldilocks
Goldilocks

Indeed. Time to google a sweatshirt.

Guest
Guest

You're a riot! Very funny Model.

cindermaggi
cindermaggi

hahahaha hahahahah ahahahaha hahahahahaha hahahahah

natasha/LAZY LANCE
natasha/LAZY LANCE

Go fuck yourself with a 36 grit cylinder hone Linda my dear ugly CUNT, then when your dog mounts you you will be moist enough for his penetration.

Rnice69
Rnice69

your right on the slug there's nothing better then beating the piss out of a lawyer,to hear them begging to stop,fn loosers.again go fuck yourself cunt.

skydove
skydove

Little late for Kimmie, isn't it? But wouldn't it be interesting to know whether Ritter, Lieberman, and Kraft file separately and, if so, whether it's something their respective husbands insisted on.

Anonymous
Anonymous

ENOUGH ! Scram lady. You're repulsive.

cindermaggi
cindermaggi

ONLY TURNOFF HERE IS YOU!!! BUT TY:)

Sal
Sal

Goldilocks go google whatever you want... As long as you are doing that you are not in here annoying us...

Linda
Linda

Ignorant Illiterate SLUG!

Goldilocks
Goldilocks

It *will* be interesting to see how it plays out with those folks.

As for Kimmie, don't know if it's too late. Seems as though one's tax returns can be used as part of a larger legal strategy, and returns can be amended within a period of time.

Maybe someone out there in Pulpville has a better handle on how that might work and can give an idea?

unowho
unowho

Is MM3 your mentor too??? .....LOL...Never take the HATERS seriously, they love it when they get to you...Kindness and love is their Krypton ...unowho WOW (words of wisdom)

Goldilocks
Goldilocks

Oooh! Look! Annoying obnoxious poster is back. Pucker up and kiss the tush, Dog Breath.

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