Update: County’s Ethics Cop Accused Of Breaking Ethics Law

 

BY BUDDY NEVINS

 

 

Broward  Inspector General John Scott,  who enforces the county’s ethics law, is accused of violating the same law.

 

IGPhoto

John Scott

 

Scott is alleged to have attempted to sway the selection of a firm to clean Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport by writing the county’s purchasing director he had “evidence” that Sunrise Cleaning Systems has violated its 27-year-old contract.

Scott’s Office has a different take:  They say the law specifically gives them the power to take an active role in purchasing.

The accuser is Bill Scherer, a downtown Fort Lauderdale lawyer who represents Sunshine and is a long-time political powerbroker.

In a letter to Scott distributed to county commissioners this week and to county Purchasing Director Brenda Billingsley, Scherer says:

“Mr. Scott, you are in direct violation of County Ordinance 12-01.  This ordinance, which establishes the Office of Inspector General for Broward County, does not provide you with any authority to provide written opinions prior to the conclusion of your investigation.  Instead, the ordinance requires you to complete your investigation, keep it confidential, and then prepare a preliminary report, including making a finding of probable cause, something you have yet to do…”

“Your actions appear to be malicious. Why you have elected to unfairly disparage Sunshine Cleaning with an obvious motive to adversely affect Sunshine’s current participation in the RFP ongoing at the Ft. Lauderdale Airport is a mystery.  We believe that your deliberate failure to timely provide Sunshine with a copy of your letter to (Purchasing Director) Ms. Billingsley is further indicia of malice on your part.”

In a second letter to Billingsley sent this week, Scherer asks that the selection process be restarted  because of the “taint” caused by Scott’s “illegal acts.”

However, Scherer fails in his letter to cite this section of the Broward ethics law:

“As part of an investigation, the Inspector General (or his or her designee) may attend all duly-noticed local government meetings relating to the procurement of goods or services, and may pose questions and raise concerns consistent with the functions, authority, and powers of the Inspector General.”

Is this section in conflict with the section that states investigations should be confidential?  That’s for lawyers and maybe eventually a judge to determine.

But Scott’s Office cites the same section in their answer to Scherer, which is below.

Scott, a 1985 graduate of Georgetown University Law in Washington, was a senior trial attorney in the Justice Department from 1990-2008.  The last 13 years he was in the public integrity unit, responsible for numerous corruption prosecutions around the country.

Sunshine Cleaning has been under investigation by Scott’s office since last year for alleged irregularities regarding minority contracts, a charge the company denies.

XXXXX

Scott’s answer, penned by another lawyer in his office, to Scherer.  Inspector General Offfice’s General Counsel Jennifer Merino cites the same section of the ethics law as I did (click to enlarge):

 

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17 Responses to “Update: County’s Ethics Cop Accused Of Breaking Ethics Law”

  1. Broward says:

    Someone should be looking into the purchasing outside county ordinances and charter at the BSO.

    Start with the vehicle contract that was awarded to a Broward business that the Sheriff and Angello Castillo behind the scenes arbitrarily changed to a company in northern Florida, which violates every ethics standard in Broward.

    Angello Castillo as a sitting Pines Commissioner even brought up in a taped Commission Meeting he works for BSO and had recently did a piggyback deal to buy hundreds of vehicle for BSO.

    It’s unethical for Angello to be conducting BSO business on Pines taxpayers dime and Pines business on county taxpayers dime. The BSO appear to be doing all kinds of things that should be investigated by the Inspector Generals Office.

  2. neverends says:

    And the wheel of Broward’s dig and pony political show continues to go round and round with nary a nic in the tire!

  3. One Who Knows says:

    The paid mouthpiece for a questionable firm is protesting because the Inspector General is investigating his client.
    That’s a real joke.
    Scherer needs to go back to milking the remains of the Scott Rothstein firm and leave honest government to the Inspector General.

  4. In the know says:

    Buddy, that firm did not overcharge the County. The Auditor misconstrued the over-payments as a fault of Sunshine’s when in fact it was a competitive procurement where Sunshine was the low bidder out of 4 qualified companies. The Auditor produced a flawed report using incomparable airports, and never corrected his own findings when proven false. If Sunshine is overcharging at FLL, why is the company that cleans MIA (one of the airports Lukic used as a comparable) 27% higher in their bid price at FLL?
    This is a witch hunt that may result in putting a local company from Broward out of business in favor of firms from outside our community.

  5. amazing says:

    @neverends
    yep – it never ends
    where’s the Feds?

  6. Rational Ryan says:

    I just happened to bump into Commissioner LaMarca recently and he explained to me what a good corporate citizen Sunrise Cleaning System is for Broward County. It is unfortunate that the Democrats like IG Scott are so anti business to nit pick good companies like this. It reminds me of the other day and all the bickering about the Panthers scoreboard and the supposed money not disclosed by the Panthers to the County. What a bunch of bull, the Panthers made it clear it was a simple accounting error and it would get straightened out. I am sure that is what is happening here just an easily explained error. I have no doubt Mr. Scherer a much with a sterling reputation would represent someone who engaged in questionable business practices. Kudos to Mr. Scherer to question IG Scott. This is the same person who forced Commissioner LaMarca to refrain from engaging in a good business opportunity where he was helping a friend promote a good service for Broward County. Someone needs to look into IG Scott and his liberal ties. Next thing we know he will get his friends at the IRS on us.

    FROM BUDDY:

    I am told that this is not the work of Ryan Reiter, who is County Commissioner Chip LaMarca’s aide.

  7. Turner Brown says:

    Rational Ryan great Blog. Who Does this guy report to? I looked all over the internet to see who oversees him, nada, nill, nothing.
    When I managed several commercial buildings Sunshine Cleaning was my cleaning company. Every time I was supporting a charity event they would always be there for support. We need more companies like Sunshine who really get involved to the community. Wasn’t Sunshine Cleaning the company who’ss employee found a large sum of money at Ft. Lauderdale Airport and turned it in to authorities? Then he gave his reward money to a homeless person. We need more people like that and companies who train there employees to do the right thing. I am glad they have the guts and integrity to to expose Mr. Scott for what he is just another power hungry pompass distortion expert. Sunshine is a good and honest company. Kudos to Sunshine..

  8. City Activist Robert Walsh says:

    Are you having fun yet inspector Scott. Now you have the”Grand Wizard” as I like to call Att.Scherer. Another one (along w/ Mayor Joy Cooper)telling you to but out. Nice try on the Grand Wizard though huh John. He (scott) has every right to investigate anyone, firm, vendor, who is paid by tax dollars. Inspector Scott I do not think is intimaidated in the very least. Although the “Grand Wizard” is no slouch, he has meet his match w/ John Scott. I am impressed w/ Att.Scherer for doing the best job possible for Sunshine Cleaners” but if you charged the County for work you didn’t do let just say that County Comm.Lois Wexler won’t give a damn who represents you, and that if you rip her off even for a buck she will get you. So tell your client Att.scherer to go over the books and go back and substanchiate every dime broward county gave you, and that’s it. Cause if this Inspector Genereal is on your ass, be careful. The real story here is who tipped off the OIG Att.Scherer. Then you will squash this whole mess. Until then play ball. And who tipped off Bill scherer over @ the County that Scott sent this heads up to them. It seems a little odd that Bill Scherer would get this information so fast….(hmm)….

  9. Turner Brown says:

    WOW!!! I just read the letter that the OIG’s General Council wrote. What a bunch of malarkey. If there is an ongoing investigation of the company how can the OIG or anyone make allegations and not influence any selection committee when the allegations may not be true. Isn’t this still America?? They are allegations. What if Sunshine is cleared of these allegations after the real facts are in and the selection committee decides to penalize Sunshine. It is obvious to a 5th grader that Sunshine would and not have a fair opportunity to compete on a equal surface. That is an ambush the lone ranger would be proud of. I wounder how much time the OIG
    gave Sunshine to respond ? Maybe Ms. Merino will respond to that question.. Another good question why does the OIG need an attorney in the first place. I guess the reason is he Don’t understand his own function. absurd .More wasted taxpayers money..

  10. Just Saying says:

    Hmmmm. So is commenter #6 “Rational Ryan” who “just happened to bump into Commissioner LaMarca” the same Ryan Reiter (twitter name RationalRyan) who is also LaMarca’s new taxpayer-funded county commission aide. Seems likely!!

    http://twitter.com/rationalryan

  11. I know too says:

    Is is not that Lukic used incomparable airports but that he used the wrong square footages of the airports, even worse.

  12. Ghost of McLovin says:

    if rational ryan indeed is lamarca’s aide, his stay on the 4th floor will be a short, painful one

  13. Turner Brown says:

    City Activist Robert Walsh!!
    Check the facts befor you blurt out. You sound like the county auditor. How can you over bill someone when Sunshine Cleaners were the low bidder on a fixed contract. Read the headlines Mr. Walsh.. Broward County and Broward County Staff were accused of overpaying not being over billed. HARD TO BELIEVE WHEN THIS WAS A COMPETIVE BID AND SUNSHINE WAS THE LOW BIDDER. DO YOUR RESEARCH YOU SOUND LIKE BOB NORMAN. NO,I AM SORRY FOR THAT COMMENT NOWBODY IS THAT BAD !! MATH EXAMPLE FOR 5TH GRADERS… CONTRACT IS FOR $12,000 PER YEAR DIVIDRD BY 12 MONTHS EQUALS $ 1,000 PER MONTH.. $1,001 IS AN OVER BILLING. SUNSHINE HAD A FIXED CONTRACT PER YEAR DIVIDED BY 12 MONTHS AND THAT EQUALS A MONTHLY NUMBER WHICH SUNSHINE BILLED. GET THE ACTTUAL RECORDES AND CORRECT NUMBERS BEFORE YOU BLURT OUT MISINFORMATION. NOW YOU SOUND LIKE THE COUNTY AUDOTOR THAT IS HIS MO.

  14. Stupid is as Stupud does says:

    LaMarca and crew have one fatal flaw, they can never keep their mouths shut. Until Chip’s aide issued a denial no one had any clue the post may have been posted by Chip’s aide. Why draw attention to yourself? I mean it is one thing to object if someone used his real name for a post without permission but now we have to clarify innocuous screen names as well.

  15. Home run! says:

    LaMarca will always support Sunshine Cleaning. The owner, Coach Klein, was his high school baseball coach at Cardinal Gibbons. He will always be on his team.

  16. Proud Northeast Hurricane says:

    LaMarca, as much as he likes to hang around Cardinal Gibbons events, did not go there. Of course he has no objections if anyone thinks that he did. Goes along with his “wealthy” man about town persona, you know hanging out at Coral Ridge County Club (with member friends, because he is not one) for Friday Happy Hour, going to Gibbons alumni events, custom made shirts and designer shoes, a house in LHP with a wine cellar and a new jag.

    He is a small scale Rothstien, trying to pass himself off as a financial success when in fact he will always be a guy who attended Northeast High, went to college for 20 min and never graduated. Despite all the trappings of wealth in the first paragraph, is in foreclosure.

    I don’t care who runs against him, the Alumni at Northeast are well aware of his disloyalty to our school and while we may not have a lot of money, we have votes and we wont be voting for him. I doubt Chip cares, in the Chipsters new world nothing west of Federal counts anyway.

    FROM BUDDY:

    This post was about the county’s Inspector General, not Chip LaMarca. There is obviously somebody obsessed with him.

  17. City Activist Robert Walsh says:

    #13-“Turner Brown” – obviously somebody tipped off the OIG- is that simple. So in the process of verifying the complaint, sustaining it etc. the “OIG” found something because he would have never taken this, this far. Although I don’t think that Ins. Scott never fathomed that Att.Scherer-the “Grand wizard” would come after him w/ this amount of zeal. Trust me Ins.Scott the “Grand Wizard” is no joke, but I again do not think Scott would take this complaint this far if he couldn’t produce the goods(corruption, billing for work not being done etc.). I tip my hat off to Bill Scherer he is going to make a fortune representing Sunshine Cleaners($$) . And w/ the publicity this is getting(Buddy’s blog) to next this making the Press-perfect. The other comment about Scherer making “boo-koo” bucks off Rothstein and having the bank, etc. pay up, in my opinion was an easy one. Just like Att.Gloria Allred going after Tiger Woods-an easy one(getting spanked buy some stripper girl-please-weirdo). So lets see where this goes guys. Although if I was “Sunshine Cleaners” I would be very concerned…

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