Jack Tobin: A Newspaper Retrospective

Tobin on the House floor
​Margate political powerhouse and consummate deal maker Jack Tobin died Tuesday at age 69 and will be laid to rest Friday.

Tobin was a former mayor of Margate and a 16-year Florida House member, but foremost, he was a lobbyist. 

Inside, read excerpts from newspaper articles that tell Tobin's amazing story. 
Below are passages from stories written about Tobin through the years.  

October 24, 1982, Miami Herald

The two candidates in this race share many views -- stronger support for education and crime prevention, handgun control, better services for the elderly. We recommend Republican Jeanne Faiks because of her independence and straightforward approach to the issues. Faiks, 64, favors requiring all property owners to pay at least some tax and supports a state lottery to finance education.

Her opponent is Democrat Jack Tobin, who as a Margate city commissioner has approved questionable expenditures of city funds on several occasions.

Thumbnail image for tobinjoetitonedeutsch.jpg
Tobin, left, with fellow legislators Joe Titone and Peter Deutsch in Tally
December 5, 1983, Miami Herald

U.S. Justice Department prosecutors have asked former and current Margate officials to reveal their personal financial records in a continuing, year-long investigation of South Florida garbage companies.

Former City Commissioner George Liederman received a subpena Friday to testify before a federal grand jury that is probing whether major trash haulers band together to keep smaller companies out of South Florida cities.

Jack Tobin, a former Margate mayor who is now a Democratic state representative, and City Commissioner Richard Schwartz, who testified six months ago before the Grand Jury, were asked recently to open their banking records.

"If you play with fire, you get burned," said Liederman, denying any wrongdoing himself. "I think somebody's going to get burned in Margate." He would not elaborate.

Schwartz said he believes federal prosecutors are looking for evidence of bribery, perhaps involving Waste Management, Inc. 

June 10, 1984, Miami Herald

Three former Margate city commissioners have been invited to appear before a Broward grand jury investigating allegations that city officials took payoffs in exchange for lucrative city contracts.

"I'm not thrilled about it," State Rep. and former Margate Commissioner Jack Tobin said Saturday. Former Commissioners Rick Schwartz and George Liederman also have been asked to testify, sources said.

A state attorney's investigator spent an hour Friday examining records of commission meetings in 1979 at which Waste Management, Inc. was given a contract to provide garbage and trash pickup for the Northwest Broward city of 40,000, city officials said. Investigators also are looking at a 1981 contract the city made with Envisors Inc. for consulting work on the city's water and sewer systems.

Waste Management also has been part of an 18-month anti- trust probe by a federal grand jury.

Last year, a federal grand jury quizzed Tobin, Schwartz, Liederman and current Commissioner Ed Donohue on the commission's 1979 decision to extend Waste Management's $3.6- million trash-hauling contract with the city and reject a bid almost $900,000 lower.

Tobin, Schwartz and Liederman, as well as Commissioner John Zerweck, voted to retain Waste Management that year even though Browning-Ferris Inc.'s proposed contract was substantially lower.

June 14, 1984, Miami Herald

State Rep. Jack Tobin, former Margate Mayor George Liederman and three businessmen were indicted Thursday for paying or receiving bribes for city garbage and utility contracts, their attorneys said.

Tobin, D-Margate, was indicted on six counts of bribery and six counts of receiving unlawful compensation, his attorney said. Tobin is the first member of the state House of Represenatives to be indicted since 1976.

The Broward County grand jury also indicted former City Commissioner and Mayor Liederman; former Margate lobbyist Jack Cory; Harold "Al" Stocket, a Waste Management executive who now works for the company in suburban Knoxville, Tenn., and Douglas M. Darden, president of Envisors Inc. engineering consultants, their attorneys said.

The names of those officials are contained in a sealed 16-count indictment delivered after two days of testimony before a Broward grand jury.

The grand jury has been investigating the Margate City Commission's decision to award a $3.6-million garbage contract to Waste Management and a $275,000 utility study contract to Envisors, sources said. Details of the charges won't be released until the five men surrender.

Darden and Liederman plan to surrender to authorities today, their attorneys said. Tobin, Cory and Stocket plan to turn themselves in Monday, their attorneys said.

Each count in the indictment is a felony punishable by up to five years in prison and $5,000 in fines. A spokesman for Gov. Bob Graham's legal office said it is customary for the governor to suspend any public official who is indicted.

... Tobin, 42, was first elected to the Margate City Commission in 1979. After serving two years as Margate mayor and vice mayor, he won a seat in the state House of Representatives in 1982.

Tobin is a member of the house Corrections, Probations and Parole Committee, the Ethics and Elections Committee and the Community Affairs Committee.

June 19, 1984

State Rep. Jack Tobin, charged with trading votes for cash as a Margate city commissioner, surrendered to Broward sheriff's deputies Monday and vowed to run for re-election this fall.

Wearing a blue Florida necktie, the 42-year-old Democratic lawmaker said he received hundreds of phone calls over the weekend supporting his campaign for a second term.

"I'm not boasting, but my phone hasn't stopped ringing off the hook with praise," said Tobin, charged with accepting six bribes from 1979 to 1981. "I'm getting calls from constituents, legislators and people who I haven't heard from in years.

"The last time I ran for office, I won 75 percent of the vote. This election, I'll win by an even greater margin."

August 10, 1984

"Resign, Mr Tobin"

With His own words captured on tape in an investigation of government corruption in Margate, State Rep. Jack Tobin appears to have snared himself in a web of sordid acts betraying the public's trust. He made his statements in conversations secretly recorded by a government witness. His statements raise so many questions about his integrity that Mr. Tobin should set aside his bid for re-election and allow the Democratic Party to pick another nominee.

Mr. Tobin has served one legislative term representing a district in Northwest Broward. He is charged with accepting payoffs while a Margate city commissioner in return for approving lucrative city contracts. He has pleaded innocent and is scheduled for trial Sept. 4.

As with all criminal defendants, Mr. Tobin's innocence is presumed. Regardless of the trial's outcome, however, Mr. Tobin's taped statements demonstrate his unworthiness to serve in the Legislature. His continued presence there sullies his colleagues and the institution alike.

Mr. Tobin made the incriminating statements in a conversation with Ira Adelberg, a Margate jeweler who once employed him as a watch repairman. Unknown to Mr. Tobin, Mr. Adelberg actively was cooperating with Federal investigators last January when he engaged Mr. Tobin in conversations about the corruption inquiry.

The tapes, obtained by The Herald last week, capture the animated voice of Mr. Tobin growing increasingly agitated as Mr. Adelberg attempts to draw him out about payoffs in Margate city government. "You mean to tell me that Waste Management gave you less than five grand?" Mr. Adelberg inquired.

"Yes, sir," Mr. Tobin replied, somewhat indignantly. "Much less."

Mr. Tobin went on to say that the "five thousand . . . had nothing to do with Waste Management," suggesting that he had received a $5,000 payment in another matter from lobbyist Jack Cory, one of Mr. Tobin's four codefendants.

At the time of the taped conversation, Mr. Tobin believed that the corruption investigation centered on possible antitrust violations by Waste Management. Mr. Adelberg asked Mr. Tobin "about the three payments you told me about."

"It has nothing to do with Waste Management," Mr. Tobin replied. "That's why I'm not worried about going down there (to testify before a grand jury) because it had nothing to do with Waste Management. If their investigation is about Waste Management, they're not going to get me on nothing. If they're going into other stuff, that's a different story. . . . "

Mr. Adelberg then said, "There's a lot of (expletive) that can be laid on you."

"Of course there is," Mr. Tobin replied. "But they got to prove it, Ira. They got to prove it."

These taped conversations reveal how a squalid mixture of cronyism and corruption stained the Margate City Commission from 1979 to 1981. By his own account, Mr. Tobin was fully cognizant of the situation.

His violation of the public trust cannot be erased by an acquittal on criminal charges. Mr. Tobin should resign so that Democratic leaders can select a worthier candidate to run for the right to represent House District 88.

October.20, 1984, Miami Herald

Tobin, 43, burst into tears after the verdict, which exonerated him of six bribery and six unlawful compensation charges less than three weeks before his bid to return to the House.

"There will be no more crying. That's it, it's all over," he said while grasping his wife and two teen-age children in an emotional bear hug. "The tears are over. Let's move ahead."

Before television camera lights and a cheering crowd of family and friends, many of them sobbing, Tobin said: "I felt all along that the charges were false.

"And I'm flabbergasted that the U.S. Justice Department and the state attorney's office would try to convict an honest politician while there is rape and drugs to clean up on the streets."

Tobin was charged with taking cash for his votes on six city projects and ordinances while a Margate commissioner between 1979 and 1981.

Indicted with him on June 14 were former Margate commissioner George Liederman, Waste Management Inc. official Harold Stockett, lobbyist Jack Cory and Envisors Inc. president Douglas Darden.

October 24, 1984, Miami Herald 

Moments after a jury judged him not guilty of bribery charges last Friday, state Rep. Jack Tobin was steering the family car toward Margate's Temple Beth Am.

He knew friends from all the old neighborhoods would be gathering at his house, but they would have to wait.

First, Jack Tobin wanted to pray.

Rabbi Paul Plotkin recalls what happened when Tobin, his wife, Leslie, and children David and Lauren slipped in the back door halfway through sabbath services:

"There was a commotion by the door. A couple of people just stood up and embraced somebody. Then I saw Jack breaking away and walking down the side aisle. You know what a huggly, teddy- bear kind of person he is. He had a big smile on his face. He just raised his hand with his thumb up and I knew.

"I said, 'Ladies and gentlemen, we have something more to rejoice today. One of our own who we knew to be innocent has been absolved.'

"Then everyone started cheering, which is very unusual in the middle of a service. It was very emotional. Personally, I was holding back the tears."

The rejoicing continued this week for Tobin as the 42-year- old Margate Democrat regained his job and renewed his campaign for re-election to his District 88 House seat. He faces a challenge Nov. 6 from Republican Jeanne Faiks.

Since Friday night, Tobin has been in a whirl of parties and congratulatory celebrations: a spontaneous bash at his house that lasted until 3 a.m. Saturday; standing-ovation appearances at the Century Village Democratic Club in Deerfield, the Margate Kiwanis Club, and the Palm Springs II Men's Club; a triumphant return to his old office at Commonwealth Savings and Loan Association in Fort Lauderdale, and a surprise cake from the Margate Democratic Club, bearing the sugary inscription, "Good Luck Jack."

Tobin on the job with Lippman, far left
​May 29, 1989, Miami Herald

He's no Wall Street wizard, but state Rep. Jack Tobin knows why an investment banking firm hired him:

He's a legislator. He knows influential people, including city  and county commissioners who decide which companies receive bond business.

That's business as usual in Florida's part-time Legislature, where public office provides a perfectly legal calling card to private employment. It raises an old question, too: whether legislators should be allowed to use their elected positions to enrich themselves.

"Are they going to hire an unknown? Are they going to hire Joe Blow? No," said Tobin, 47, a Margate Democrat. "They're going to hire somebody that's well-known. People like to do business with who they know."

Tobin, who lost his job with a troubled savings and loan company early this year, formed his own lobbying and public relations firm in March. Soon, he had his first client: Southeastern Municipal Bonds, a regional investment banking firm with offices in Orlando and Fort Lauderdale.

Southeastern was subsequently chosen by the Broward County Commission and School Board to manage bond issues. Both county boards had begun reviewing bond firms' applications by the time Tobin was hired.

Tobin contacted one county commissioner, Scott Cowan, and several school board members on Southeastern's behalf. But the board members said Tobin's connection and contacts did not influence their decision. What matters, they said, is a company's track record and its presentation.

Southeastern pays Tobin $4,000 a month plus commissions to represent them.

... "There's no question Southeastern hired me because I'm Jack Tobin, state representative. They didn't hire me because I'm an expert in bonds. It's very hard to separate the two."

... To date, Southeastern is his only client, Tobin said. But after he formed his company, he said he asked a number of Broward interests about becoming clients. They included Alamo Rent A Car and Nova University -- both of which had bills pending this session -- a new Margate car dealership, and several banks.

None hired him, but Tobin predicted that when the session ends, he will get more clients. He plans to talk to Alamo and Nova after the session but has not done so during session, he said.

This session, Tobin aggressively worked to defeat a bill Alamo opposed that would have restricted sale of expensive collision-damage waivers, but he said he did so because Alamo is a major local employer -- not because it is a potential client.

... The law requires annual reporting of sources of income, and Tobin is paid by his firm, Jack Tobin & Associates.

The company consists of Tobin as president and his wife Lesley as secretary-treasurer and is run from their Margate home, using a separate telephone line connected to a 24-hour answering service.

On his 1988 financial disclosure form, Tobin listed a net worth of $132,000, including homes in Margate and Tallahassee.

After eight years at Commonwealth Savings & Loan, Tobin lost his $55,000-a-year job as vice president for community relations in January when the financially troubled S&L drastically reduced overhead. He had built a reputation for effectively organizing breakfasts for retirees so they would open accounts and obtain mortgages at Commonwealth. Citizens' legislature


The Florida Constitution prohibits legislators from lobbying the Legislature and state agencies because they have direct power over state spending and policy. But they can lobby local governments and many do.

"The world perception is that a strong political name can help open doors that would otherwise not be open," said County Commissioner Nicki Grossman.

February 20, 1993, Miami Herald

When Rep. Mike Abrams of North Miami Beach went looking for bond business in Margate, he hired a colleague -- Broward Rep. Jack Tobin, a former Margate mayor -- to help persuade city commissioners.

Tobin the legislator became Tobin the lobbyist. And he collected his share of the deal last month -- $15,000 -- after commissioners hired Abrams' company to handle a bond refinancing.

"It's what I do for a living," said Tobin, a Democrat whose husband-wife public relations firm represents developers, a car dealer and others.

"When I represent any client before any municipality, I make it very clear: I want them to judge who gets the business based on the best deal, not because I'm representing them."

... The refinancing of $19 million worth of 1985 Margate water and sewer bonds could save the city about $800,000 through lower interest rates. Commissioners approved the refinancing in December, awarding the work jointly to underwriters Clayton Brown and Guzman & Co. of Miami. Abrams said he could not recall what his firm's fees were.

Tobin now is lobbying the city on behalf of Minto Builders for a rezoning to allow a miniature golf course, driving range and arcade. His dual roles are troubling to Pamela Donovan, a Margate commissioner who publishes a weekly newspaper.

"I feel it's unethical, in his position, that he lobbies for everything," Donovan said. "If he were no longer a state representative, he would no longer be of use to a lot of people."

Tobin with Bob Butterworth
March 21, 1993

State Rep. Jack Tobin, speaking for the first time about an ethics complaint against him, charged on Friday that he was being set up by a political enemy out to smear him.

Tobin, D-Margate, is the target of a two-week-old investigation by the state Commission on Ethics on whether he used his legislative office for his lobbying business.

State law required Tobin to formally waive the confidentiality of the investigation before commenting.

'I was set up for political reasons. I never did it,'' Tobin said.

Tobin was accused by Bob Franklin, a Margate Planning and Zoning Board member, of using his legislative office in Coconut Creek to lobby for Minto Builders.

Franklin said he went to the legislative office last month, where Tobin spent an hour trying to persuade him to support a 14.5-acre video arcade and entertainment center project.

The project passed the zoning board 4 to 2, with Franklin voting against it. It was later rejected by the Margate City Commission, which feared it would draw teen-age gangs.

Both men agreed that the Minto project was discussed at the legislative office. Tobin contended that Franklin set him up.

''He called my office and said he wanted to see me,'' Tobin said. ''He has seen me on many issues before and my secretary didn't ask why he was coming in.

''He came in the office and immediately began talking about the project. He talked about it for an hour. He set me up.''
Franklin was a political opponent, Tobin said.

''I hate to say what Mr. Tobin is full of,'' Franklin said on Saturday. ''If he didn't want to talk about Minto in a state office, why didn't he take the discussion outside. He violated the law.''

If found guilty of a violation, Tobin could be removed from office, suspended or fined up to $ 5,000. The legislator vowed he will be cleared of any charges.

[Tobin was acquitted of all charges.]

September 3, 1993

Two prominent Broward County legislators were fined Friday after pleading no contest to misdemeanor charges of accepting gifts from lobbyists and not disclosing them.

Reps. Fred Lippman, D-Hollywood, and Jack Tobin, D-Margate, were fined $250 each in addition to $75 in court costs.

As part of the agreement with prosecutors in Tallahassee, neither politician will have a permanent record.

"It's a rehash of old stuff," Lippman said. "It's highly technical and highly administrative. The thing to do is just put it behind you."

Tobin was traveling and could not be reached for comment.

The plea agreement, filed Friday in Leon County Circuit Court, ends a four-year investigation of illegal gifts and trips by lawmakers that tarnished the Legislature's image and prompted changes in the gift-disclosure laws.

In all, 26 current or former lawmakers admitted taking hunting vacations, Paris excursions, shopping sprees and jaunts to football and basketball games from lobbyists for major utilities, insurance companies and other powerful interests.

The gifts and trips themselves were legal at the time, as long as the politicians reported them on a disclosure form. They didn't.

According to prosecutors, Lippman, traveling at his own expense in San Francisco and New York in 1988, accepted two days of unreported hotel accommodations and other expenses from lobbyists Henry Vinson and Jim Woodruff of Tampa Electric Co.

On the same San Francisco trip, Tobin also accepted a $198 airline trip to a legislative conference in Reno.

The state said Tobin also accepted free air fare, hotel rooms and other expenses from Vinson and Woodruff that he never disclosed.

July 6, 1995, Miami Herald

State Rep. Jack Tobin pocketed $20,572 for a half-hour of work -- but then forgot to tell the IRS about it and denied getting the money when first questioned about it under oath.

Tobin, now a witness in a pending civil case, said he recently filed an amended 1994 federal income tax return and state financial disclosure forms, as required by Florida law, to list the payment.

But the easy money Tobin made from a friend's pay-phone company raises new questions about his dual role as a lawmaker-lobbyist and might never have surfaced if not for a lawsuit between two rival cellular phone companies set for trial this month in Miami.

Tobin, 56, is in the final months of a 16-year political career that has taken him from the depths of a 1984 bribery indictment to the pinnacle of influence as a chairman of a House telecommunications committee....

"That's what I do for a living. I'm a rainmaker," Tobin, D-Margate, said in an interview. "I put people together."

... According to Tobin's deposition in the civil suit, a friend called seven years ago and asked for Tobin's help in arranging an appointment. The friend was Jeffrey Hanft, chief executive of Peoples Telephone of Miami, which was seeking a contract with Alamo Rent a Car of Fort Lauderdale to put cellular phones in Alamo's cars.

As Hanft knew, Alamo employed Tobin at that time in a part-time marketing job. But because Tobin had never met the Alamo executive Hanft wanted to meet with, he had to call another Alamo official to arrange the meeting.

Tobin attended a half-hour meeting in Alamo's offices in the 110 Tower in Fort Lauderdale in November 1991 and said he never again heard a word about the rental-car cell-phone deal until the check arrived in the mail in 1994. The check put Tobin on both sides of the same transaction.

The meeting led to a three-year exclusive contract between Peoples' cellular unit, Carifone Cellular Phone Rental, and Alamo. Peoples said the deal was worth $15 million.

A Peoples competitor, Cellular World, says in the civil lawsuit that it was already negotiating with Alamo, and that as a result of Tobin's efforts, Peoples "usurped" Cellular World's "advantageous business relationship with Alamo Rent a Car." ... 

Tobin says that because he was not retained by Peoples, he was never under any legal obligation to disclose a potential conflict of interest.

But Tobin's son, David, was employed as assistant general counsel for the firm in 1993, a time when Peoples was lobbying Tobin and other lawmakers on telecommunications issues.

Because of that, Tobin did file a conflict of interest form with the House clerk, disclosing his son's employment at Peoples Telephone.

Tobin's role as a "rainmaker" has been scrutinized repeatedly over the years, and most politicians across Florida are keenly aware of the risks involved in failing to report outside income. ... 

Tobin said he recently instructed his accountants to file an amended 1040 federal income tax form for 1994 to account for the Peoples fee. His attorney, Edward McGee of Fort Lauderdale, said Tobin was assessed about $11,000 in IRS penalties.... 

In his second deposition, on May 4 of this year, Tobin said: "I didn't have any recollection of being paid whatsoever. When I originally set up the meeting, it was a courtesy to Jeff, who was a friend of mine. . . . There was never a discussion of any payment, any fee for setting up the meeting."

Later, Tobin was asked: "And you simply forgot it?"

"Yes," Tobin said.

"And you forgot to declare it on your personal income tax?"

"Only because I did not receive a 1099 [tax form]," Tobin said.

In the first deposition, Tobin testified that he never expected any money from Peoples because setting up the meeting was "a friendship, courtesy thing."

Tobin's memory improved dramatically by his second deposition, when he testified that Hanft had told him: "If this thing works out, you will be paid for it or I will be able to compensate you."

In Tobin's case, a nagging question is how somebody could "forget" a check for $20,572.

"I can't tell you why I forgot it," Tobin said. "I just completely forgot about it, but I made all the corrections." ... 

Asked to produce records of bills to clients, Tobin said he didn't have any records: "I automatically get paid every month without having to send any bills."

He said he did not withhold testimony in his first deposition, but simply did not remember getting the money.

"I absolutely did not maliciously, willfully or intentionally withhold any information," Tobin said in an interview. "I'll swear on a stack of Bibles. That's why I corrected my deposition. . . . If I was trying to hide $20,000, why would I go and deposit it in my account?"

Attorneys for Cellular World aren't so sure.

In a motion filed with Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Robert Kaye, Cellular World attorney Ronald Weil cited Tobin's "false testimony" as grounds for a finding in the company's favor without a trial.

Kaye has not ruled on the motion.

"Tobin's testimony is a litany of implausible fabrications and excuses for his prior false testimony," Weil argued. ... 

In the second deposition, Weil asked Tobin: "How did you get to be so lucky where you just get a check out of the blue in the mail for $20,500?"

"Live a good clean life," Tobin said.

Tobin with Anne MacKenzie and Debbie Sanderson
July 20, 1995, Miami Herald 

As a state legislator, Rep. Jack Tobin co-sponsored a controversial bill this spring that rewrote the state's telephone and cable television laws.

As a private lobbyist, Tobin is now using his political connections and knowledge of the telecommunications industry to help TCI of South Florida negotiate a cable television franchise agreement with the city of Hollywood.

Tobin, a Margate Democrat, has met privately with Hollywood city commissioners and the city manager on behalf of TCI.

His work might not be a violation of the state conflict-of- interest laws, but the appearance of conflict has raised concerns among some city officials and consumer advocates.

"I find it very uncomfortable," Mayor Mara Giulianti said. "Unless they change the system, the legislators get away with a lot of things that we can't."

Tobin doesn't see a problem. Lobbying local governments on behalf of private clients is how he supplements the $23,000 a year he is paid as a part-time legislator, he said.

"I open doors for people and I help them," said Tobin, who chairs the House Business and Professional Regulation Committee. "They're not going to hire someone who doesn't know the industry."

July 23, 1995, Sun-Sentinel

A handful of Florida part-time legislators are cashing in full-time on the political system.

That's the picture of Broward County politics made clear by 1994 financial disclosure documents of income and net worth. The forms, filed by elected officials, were released last week in Tallahassee.

For instance, state Sen. Howard Forman and state Reps. Jack Tobin and Steven Geller are lobbyists whose state positions help ease their way into the offices of other officials. 

''We only get $ 22,000 a year as a legislator. So we all have to make a living,'' said Tobin, D-Margate. ''Unless we are retired, housewives or personally wealthy, we all have to do something.''

Likewise, County Commissioner John Rodstrom helps sell bonds to local governments throughout Florida. County Commissioner Scott Cowan combs South Florida government buildings for clients for his employer, a big Fort Lauderdale law firm.

Tobin is mentioned as one who lives off the political system, something he readily admits.

He has the most lucrative lobbying practice among Broward politicians. His Jack Tobin & Associates had an income of $ 118,400 last year from clients ranging from Nova Southeastern University to Mid City Corp., a Margate developer. 

''Is it an advantage I am Jack Tobin, legislator, when I am looking for work? Absolutely,'' Tobin said. ''Do I get access that others can't get? Absolutely.''

And Tobin's lobbying - getting paid to influence legislation and government decisions - is a job some people call a conflict of interest for an office holder.

''What Tobin does smells. It appears to be a conflict,'' said Walter Browne, the Federation of Public Employees union president who has been lobbied by Tobin in the past as a member of school board committees and the now-defunct Port Everglades Commission.

July 31, 1995, Sun-Sentinel

Florida law generally erects a high wall against conflicts of interest involving public officials. But not always.

Unfortunately, there is a gaping loophole in the law. It lets elected officials also work as paid lobbyists, if they don't lobby their own agency.

That's too lax, legalizing behavior that ideally ought to be banned as a blatant ethical, professional and financial conflict. 

State Sen. Howard Forman, D-Pembroke Pines, and state Reps. Steve Geller, D-Hallandale, and Jack Tobin, D-Margate, are all lobbyists whose elected positions help them make money by influencing other government agencies in Florida.

These dual roles emit a foul stench of impropriety, however officials try to mask it with a flowery spray of legality. In theory, aren't lobbyists supposed to be outsiders paid to influence decision-making by insiders? Doesn't blurring those lines invite abuse? Isn't "legislator-lobbyist" a contradictory and incongruous term? Yes, yes and yes.

You don't have to be a political scientist or have a doctorate in ethics to feel squeamish about such divided loyalties and the related potential for corruption, loss of integrity and harm to public confidence in government.

Tobin is lobbying the School Board to shift an eye care insurance contract to Optiplan. He sees nothing wrong with his double role, which brought his lobbying company $ 118,400 last year. 

July 28, 1997, Miami Herald

Howard Forman -- the state senator who's also a marketing consultant -- enjoyed the best financial year of his life in 1996.

After a string of lean years in which he barely kept afloat, the Pembroke Pines Democrat earned $304,000, mostly in fees for his role in securing two billboards facing Interstate 95 in Hallandale. Forman said he and business associate Jim Tate sold both billboards to H. Wayne Huizenga's Republic Industries.

"I had a couple of big deals that bore fruit in 1996, so my income was higher," Forman said. "But I certainly don't consider myself a wealthy person."

... The net worth of Broward elected officials ranges from state Sen. Walter "Skip" Campbell, D-Coral Springs, a trial lawyer who's worth $8.8 million and has an extensive stock and mutual fund portfolio, to state Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Davie, a graduate studies adviser at Nova Southeastern University, whose net worth is $76,400. The figure may be less than many of her constituents in Southwest Broward.

"I'm still the pauper of the legislative delegation," the 30-year-old Wasserman Schultz joked. "I'm a woman of the people."

Wasserman Schultz is one of seven Broward politicians with financial ties to Nova, the only four-year university based in Broward.

Nova also employs two School Board members, Bob Parks and Don Samuels, as faculty members, and a third, Chairman Abe Fischler, who is the university's president emeritus. State Rep. Fred Lippman, D-Hollywood, a pharmacist, earns a $118,000 salary as a university chancellor, and Rep. Jack Tobin, D-Margate, does marketing and public relations work for the school.

Two state legislators, Sen. Matthew Meadows and Rep. Josephus Eggelletion Jr., work for the Broward County School District when they're not in Tallahassee. 

... County Commissioner Scott Cowan earned nearly $80,000 last year, in addition to his $60,669 County Commission salary, to help attract clients to a Fort Lauderdale law firm, Atlas, Pearlman, Trop & Borkson. Cowan also received $10,000 to help a ministorage firm, BMS of Broward, win zoning approvals in Tamarac. ... 

Tobin, the Margate Democrat who years ago saw the income-generating potential in his political skills, earned $125,000 as a marketing consultant for a string of clients, including Nova Southeastern, the Florida Pay Telephone Association and Cambridge Medical Center.

Tobin and his wife, Lesley, oversaw construction of a Cambridge walk-in health clinic on the grounds of the Century Village retirement complex in Deerfield Beach.

April 10, 2001, Miami Herald

Sometimes ... state legislators show up at city commissions to lobby on behalf of commercial interests. In 1999, for example, then-state Sen. Howard Forman (since elected Broward Clerk of Courts), showed up at a Pembroke Pines City Commission meeting to lobby for a land-use change for his client, Carl's Furniture. And what sane city commission would say no to Howard?

A famous conglomeration of lobbying legislators clamored before the Broward School Board in 1995. Companies bidding for fat school health insurance contracts hired, among other lobbyists, Forman's wife and state Reps. Steve Geller and Jack Tobin (who was partnering with state Rep. Mandy Dawson).

Yet, up in Tallahassee, South Florida towns need $1.62 million worth of different lobbyists to see about local interests. (Not counting whatever the Broward and Miami-Dade school boards and county commissions are paying for their particular army of lobbyists.) Juxtapose that $1.62 million against the $1.2 million a year in pay collected by the 42 representatives and senators from the two counties.

We're paying two different gangs well over a million bucks a year each for the same service. If the legislators can't see about our interests by themselves, then maybe we can get by sending just the fellows in expensive suits.

April 28, 1998, Miami Herald

State Rep. Jack Tobin, whose appetite for political clout was matched only by his zest for good food, Monday became the second senior Broward legislator to retire in less than a week.

Tobin, 56, a Margate Democrat, choked back tears as he announced from the House floor that he would not run when his current term expires. He will join a close friend, 20-year House veteran Fred Lippman of Hollywood, in leaving two years before the reality of term limits would have forced their exits.

Like Lippman, Tobin was a colorful, sometimes controversial lawmaker who brought a taste of the Borscht Belt to the good-ol'-boy Capitol -- as he did Monday when he talked about a retirement spent fishing in the Keys.
"This little Jewish kid from the Bronx tries to fish, but I only catch minnows," Tobin said.

A liberal Democrat with a loyal political base, Tobin made the leap from Margate city politics to Tallahassee in 1982 when legislative districts were radically redrawn to reflect West Broward's condo boom. He was a consistent champion of issues affecting his elderly constituents, such as Alzheimer's patient care and Medicare protection, and he played mediator in the many disputes involving state-regulated professionals, from harbor pilots to interior designers.

An experienced voice on such thorny issues as annexation, Tobin was a steadying force on the Broward legislative delegation, which is slowly but surely losing its seniority as term limits draw near.

With his wisecracking style and cozy connections to lobbyists, Tobin personified the so-called "Broward Mafia" that unabashedly exercised power to bring home pork-barrel projects and reward lobbyist friends in the late 1980s and early '90s.

An open-bar 1995 feast at The Wharf seafood restaurant, with telecommunication lobbyists picking up the tab for Tobin's committee the night before a key vote on a bill deregulating phone services, has become a part of Tallahassee's political lore.

Lippman started a speech about Tobin by calling him "someone who has grabbed headlines because of his voracious appetite."

But Tobin, who also would later help line up the votes to block a House speaker from imposing a ban on lobbyist-paid meals, said critics of wining and dining had it all wrong.

"There's an old saying," Tobin said then. "If you can't eat their food and drink their liquor and vote against their stuff, you don't belong here."

Tobin, and lobbying, go hand in hand. While in the House, Tobin himself became a lobbyist, opening doors of city and county halls for private clients for a fee. Jack Tobin & Associates grossed $125,000 last year. He said he planned to work full time at lobbying when he leaves the House, but under the Florida Constitution he must now wait two years before lobbying the Legislature.

By retiring now, Tobin gains a head start on other veteran lawmakers who may also plan to begin a second career as lobbyists.

"I will not be gone long, because I hope to be out in the halls by the year 2000," he said.

October 9, 2009, Margate News 

Known for being too cozy with lobbyists, Tobin resigned from his state seat in 1998, surfacing two years later as a lobbyist himself and eventually jockeying the City of Margate as a client. 

Since, Tobin has provided campaign backing for many a Margate City Commissioner - commissioners who Tobin parades private clients before in search of incentives which, if granted, become profitable ventures for Tobin and his company, Jack Tobin and Associates.   

Margate City Attorney, Eugene Steinfeld, recently stated that Tobin's contract was amended in 2005 to provide for such conflict of interest. Conflict of interest in that Tobin is paid by Margate taxpayers to lobby for the well-being of the City before state lawmakers in Tallahassee, while at the same time profiting from Margate taxpayers through persuading City Commissioners (both directly and indirectly ) to favor his client's private interests. 

Case in point - Tobin recently got city officials to completely rezone the old Aztec mobile home park on State Road 7 to accommodate his client, Aztec RV Resort Inc., a group of Canadian investors with plans to construct over 600 Class A luxury RV sites on the 102-acre parcel. 

Tobin, a Class A luxury RV owner himself, must have been paid handsomely by Aztec RV Resort Inc. to close the $40 million deal. Maybe a luxury RV lot soon to be valued at $100,000 or more. Then of course there are the four of five city commissioners who hastily approved the project on behalf of Margate taxpayers with no financial guarantee that the Canadian investors actually had the capital to move the project forward or properly market the project to ensure viability. 

Keep in mind Tobin is the same lobbyist who facilitated the displacement of hundreds of Margate residents from their homes two years ago when he came before Margate Commissioners on behalf of UniProp Manufactured Homes, owners of the Aztec Mobile Home Park and a company with profitable plans for a 700-plus unit townhome project which Margate commissioners approved. The project fell through and hundreds of Margate residents were carelessly evicted from their homes - residents who counted on elected officials to support them, not expedite their eviction.

To this day, Tobin threatens would-be candidates for Margate City Commission with 'black-balling' and name calling. He's just short of being disrespectful to commissioners in chambers and is most certainly disrespectful to residents who disagree with his point of view. Behavior unfitting of a lobbyist paid by taxpayers to represent their best interest. 

One Margate City Commissioner said that the reason Tobin's contact was amended and renewed in 2005 was because Jack needed clients, not because he was doing the city any good. Might I add that the 40K a year Tobin is paid by taxpayers might better serve Parks & Rec initiatives in the City.

Lobbyists like Tobin are bad news for Margatonians -- and we have only ourselves to blame.

Follow The Daily Pulp on Twitter: @TheDailyPulp.

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Le Peerman
Le Peerman

Sorry meant to put post as a reply. I think I fixed it.

Le Peerman
Le Peerman

Interesting newspaper account Bob. I am sure there are just as many newspaper accounts about some of the good Jack did. If I may I would like to tell you about the Jack Tobin I know.I spent the last 7 years sitting in commission meetings next to Jack. I spent the last 7 years being at times on opposite sides of an issue with Jack. I spent the last 7 years during budget time speaking about(against) the city's contract with Jack. The Jack Tobin I knew loved his family, his friends and Margate. Jack and I could disagree on something and it never became personal. Over the years of watching Jack he earned my respect. Even tho he remained neutral in the last election he made himself available for any of the candidates to speak to him. I respected him for that. I knew who Jack was and he knew who I was. Jack always took the time to answer any question I had and never made me feel stupid for asking it. He gave me an insight to Tallahassee that I could never have gotten. The Jack I knew was a kind, honest man who wanted the best for his city. The night I won Jack left a hockey game to come congratulate me something I now have learned he had never done before. I had lunch with him(I paid) after my win and he told me that all I needed to do was to be who I was and to always put the residents 1st. The day I was sworn in instead of sitting at the dias I sat at the table in the back with Jack, the place I had been for 7 years next to the man I had come to respect and went from there to the podium. I was honored and proud to have been able to be in Tallahassee with Jack this session even tho he was sick, he was still teaching me, about everything there was to learn up there. I was so proud to tell him I found my way to the Print Room by myself. I will miss Jack, I will miss his honesty with me and his friendship. I hope I made him proud for the short time he was able to see me as a Commissioner in His City.Le PeermanCommissioner City of Margate


Can this be the same Jack Tobin I met in July,1969 at Ft.Benning Georgia?We were doing a 2 week summer Army Reserve stint at the Post hospital.

Jack and I became pals and after returning to Miami we visited back forth for several years.He then moved to Broward from North Miami and we fell out of touch.It's is hard to believe the guy I knew could be this Jack Tobin.I hope not.

The recently deceased Tobin certainly led a charmed life pulling scam after scam and never paying the price,That housing deal misplacing all those people was the absolute worst of all his shenanigans..None of us are perfect and at the end he found a very severe verdict that he couldn't evade.

If any one out there can tell me that Jack Tobin was a veteran of the U.S. Army I can then be sure its the man I once knew .And photos in this article certainly look like the younger Jack and the personality matches right up..

I would like to send a note of condolence to the family in the case of it being my old buddy from better days.


When he was a state representative, Tobin's nickname was "Lobster Boy" because of his penchant for lobbyist-funded dinners at The Wharf restaurant in Tallahassee.

Margate has long been a whirling financial cesspool the purpose of which was to efficiently separate the citizens from their money to benefit the usual suspects.

Back in the late '60's, there was a privately owned water and sewer utility, Margate Utilities Corporation, that had the franchise for the Margate area. The principals of that company formed a garden variety not for profit corporation with the impressive name, "Margate Utility Authority" (small inc hoping no one will notice.)

The for-profit entity then entered into a contract to sell the utility system to the "Margate Utility Authority" at -- what else -- a grossly inflated purchase price. The City Attorney as I recall may also have been the attorney for Margate Utility Authority. The purchase was funded with bonds issued by MUA, Inc., which agreed that after the bonds were paid off, 40 years or so, the hulk of the utility property would be deeded to the City at no cost. A former IRS commissioner gave an opinion that these were tax-exempt, municipal bonds, even though they were not issued by the City! If memory serves, the principals of Margate Utilities Corporatioin then bought the bonds, thereby turning a worn out utility system into tax exempt munis. Brilliant!

I can't remember the former city attorney's name, but at one memorable meeting, someone presented him on the dais with a toy red wagon labeled "Margate Utility Authority" full of play money.


Bob, thank you for posting this article, if nothing else as an antidote to today's SunSentinel obit of Jack Tobin. If I hadn't read your blog posting yesterday, I would have skimmed through (Robert Nolin's ?) puff-piece and actually thought that former State Rep.Jack Tobin was an angel who blessed this community in "so many ways," according to his son, David (forget is first name) --a lawyer who lives in Boca.

I am sorry I sassed you yesterday about the 'one of a kind' caption. So keep on truckin,' Bob.

Randi Krotch
Randi Krotch

PSIt's like my Momma told me, "Never trust a fat Jewish politician with a Perm!"

Randi Krotch
Randi Krotch

Hey!!!!!!Newspapers nearly ALWAYS say good things about dead guys!!!!


My, oh my-

Davie Town Attorney John Rayson just praised Tobin up & down @ the Davie Council meeting this evening.As did the Davie Council.


May this scumbag not rest in peace. His ilk laid the foundation for the putrid scum-infested swamp this state, and especially Broward County, has become. Fuck him.

Virgil Starkwell
Virgil Starkwell

Hi pulpsters: If anyone was wondering where I've been, I just finished constructing a portable central air conditioning unit for all future tea party events. You think it is easy waging a revolution in such humid conditions? These teabaggers are very serious about changing the country and they are very resilient.

Their motto is...."Give us liberty, or give us death...but only at 72 degrees farenheit."


Among Pulp's unseemly traits is his joy in jumping in and painting a dark picture of the recently deceased.

Sort of a journalistic version of Fred Phelps.

dems for dollars
dems for dollars

Thank you for this honest story about Jack Tobin. Just because the man is dead doesn't make him a better person then he was yesterday. Gotta love the kind obituary Nevins wrote, complete with comments from Geller and Feren!


This is precisely why reporters have the reputation that they do. Taking partial truths and adding the hype and bull**** to sell a paper or an article.

The family is suffering a great loss right now and this nonsense is being put out there.

Shame on you, you lowlife, Bob Norman.


The man reminds me of a Damon Runyon character. I suppose in the early days of Margate and geting the money for his city it was acceptable, in a way, for him to play that game. One thing for sure he had personality. He's gone now and hopefully a winding down(and phase out) of an era of his type of shady business. Condolences to his family and friends. RIP Jack Tobin.


Bob (Honey), why is your headline "One of a Kind" (?!) You have publishing similar stories for for the last several months. Let us all consider that Mike Satz allowed of all this to happen because of his unique interest in looking the other way, as noted above by another commenter.


and the beat goes on.........


I Thank you Mike Satz for letting this Jack off walk all over everyone and gloat about it too!!! "3rd"


I heard what happened with the city council, the clock resturant and the auto lot, don't tell me the city council doesn't tell property owners what they can and can't do with their land.

Le Peerman
Le Peerman

I do not know if that is the same Jack however I do know that the article about the Ranchero people is full of misinformation. I was there during that time.Le

Admirer of Jack N. Tobin
Admirer of Jack N. Tobin

I take great umbrage at many of the comments made here at this time.

I will not debate whether there ever was a time for such remarks, but it has to be plain to any reasonable person that now would not be the time for such vitriol.

For the record, Jack Tobin was the Scoutmaster of Boy Scout Troop 240, Bronx NY, when I was a scout, and he mentored me and many others in many ways through the Boy Scout program. Jack, while not having a son of his own in the troop, led a legion of young men over a ten-year span, from the early 1960s to 1970s to be leaders, self-reliant, and perform community service–during the Vietnam War era when drugs were rampant and society was in an upheaval. These boys went on to become successes and upstanding men in many fields of endeavor throughout this great land–guys who still to this day contribute to their communities and would go toward danger to help or save another (even you all).

Wearing uniforms of any kind in the late 1960s was very unpopular, and when scouts started coming to meetings in street clothes because they were embarrassed of the scout uniform or the comments they my get on the way, Jack became furious. “You either wear that uniform with pride to the meetings, or don’t come at all,” he proclaimed. We all came in uniform thereafter. Troop 240, by the way, just celebrated its 90th anniversary.

My two sons are Eagle Scouts, due in no small part to the legacy of Jack N. Tobin.

There is no question that Jack, as he taught us to do, has left his earthly campsite in far-better shape than he found it.

So, whatever your grudge, please keep your vile comments to yourself and allow the Tobin family to mourn and grieve.

And while you’re at it, ask yourself how people might eulogize you.


Eagle Scout #32BSA Troop 240Bronx, NY


Like my Jewish momma told me, you are an asshole, and if your momma really did tell you that, she's one too.


Thought it very telling that SunSentinel posted remarks from Jewish politicians who had nothing but favorable things to say about Jack Tobin. Fair and balanced as usual.


Don't forget that John Rayson was also a State Rep at one time. Ties run deep.


Jack Tobin did more good things for the people of Broward County than, I would guess, all the commenters here put together. Now, its true many of his causes were for the poor and affirmed, people who the right-wingers and Tea Partiers (excuse the redundancy) consider free loaders and our governor consider a drain on the economy.

I'm also guessing that most of the commenters here would have had no idea who Jack Tobin was prior to this post, and are just showing what good groupies they are with their pseudo-tough talk.


Tina my Dear this is just the info we know about imagine the garbage we dont know.....So if you think he was a great noble man plese tell us what good he did?


Where is the sympathy for all the victims of this man's illegal activity?


Disregard Tina's comment above, Bob. Tell it like it is, with your own style and panache.


Who is Mike Satz and what does he do? Does he get a salary for all the nothing he does? His name is mentioned a lot, but never in a positive light.

Le Peerman
Le Peerman

The CRA district is done by special exception so that the businesses that go in the district are something that will enhance the area. Does a used car dealership enhance that area? The mobile home park was a totally different thing. The clock rest. property owner can sell his property to anyone he wants to, what goes on it is under a special exception for certain busineses however. Used car sales are special exceptions.Le


The Ranchero people? The missing information is what methods Jack Tobin used to force the city council to his will to ruin the lives of hundreds of margate families.


I'd like to know who u are as I was in troop 240 from 1964 till 1967...Bob L.


The only thing I said about Jack was that no one had mentioned his nickname, "Lobster Boy." We even called him that to his face. That is hardly "vitriol" or a "vile comment". I don't think he ever paid for dinner the whole time he was in Tallahassee. At the time, that was not only legal but the way business was done, behind the curtained booths at the Silver Slipper.

The Margate Utilities deal happened before he came onto the commission, but tells you something about the kind of place it was.


Most of these commenters don't have to worry about eulogies, as they are almost certain to die alone and unloved.


Please review the replies to Tina, above. They also apply to your post.


It's true. Many years ago, Jack Tobin was an extremely supportive advocate on behalf of local & public mental health needs.


Thanks Pinky I had PM confused with another Todd who is a Watercraft dealer and ex tenant.... My Bad!!!. Thats interesting we both (PM) have had misfortunes with Eileen Oconnor!!!


OK Tina you had your chance.. Let me help you here ...Mr Jack Tobin was a much greater man than Hitler, Muamar Kadafi, Stalin ,Saddam Hussein,Osama bin Ladin .......

Le Peerman
Le Peerman

The city could do nothing. The law states that if the owner of a mobile home park decides he/she does not want it to be a mobile home park he/she has that right. The owner must offer the park to the residents first, the owner did, the residents could not afford the park. Remember this was also after Wilma and most of the park was destroyed. The owners of the park offered incentives($$) over the legal amount they had to pay. In simple terms you own a house(ranchero) you rent it out(mobile home owners) you decide you do not want to own the house anymore, the renters go to the city and say they do not want to move your real estate agent(Jack) says legally it is not up to the commission. No rezoning was done at the time which is the only thing the commission had a say in. The day the commission can tell a property owner who they can sell THEIR property to is the day I will step down.LeFYI Jack arranged and help some owners move. Little known fact.Flag


Regardless of previous good deeds. If you took point for pay on putting two percent of your city's population out of their homes what do you think your epithet would be?


Yes and Timmy was a supporter of Women in Distress!!!hmmm

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