BY BUDDY NEVINS
Last-minute money from special interests including associates of the Forman family have poured into Town Council member Marlon Luis’ District 4 Davie race.
The money comes just months after Luis was the swing vote in the controversial town purchase of $12.5 million in land from the Formans.
Meanwhile, Council candidates Freda Sherman Stevens in District 2 and Terry Santini in District 3 do not have final financial reports posted on the town’s website as of early Monday.
This surely isn’t in keeping with the spirit of the law. It makes me wonder if it is just a slip-up or if Stevens and Santini are hiding something?
It is Luis’ race that is the hottest.
Luis received at least $2,500 in the final days of the campaign from Bill Murphy, Murphy’s wife and companies associated with Murphy. Murphy is a long-time real estate partner of Austin Forman.
Luis was the swing vote in December for the town’s purchase of 25 acres from Forman for a water plant and a park. Luis’ opponent Ellis Traub charges that the town rushed into the deal and overpaid for the land.
In addition to the Murphy money, Luis’ campaign was flooded with special interest money in the final reporting period. Builders, lobbyists like the law firm of Bill Laystrom, lobbyist Barbara Miller, the Realtors PAC, engineering company owner and political insider Tom McDonald and his wife and the lobbyist law firm of Ruden McClosky donated.
Luis had a whopping $52,150 given to his campaign, compared with $14,525 for Traub.
Traub’s reports indicate his donations are largely from himself. But that is an illusion.
Traub loaned the campaign $10,000 of the $14,525. He spent slightly over $4,300 — all other folks money.
Much of Traub’s money is connected to The Commons, the proposed shopping and office complex that residents of District 4 are overwhelmingly against. The contributions include $1,000 from The Commons’ chief Bob Gorlow and his wife and $1,500 from The Commons advisor Chris Wallace, his wife and company.
There are also complaints from the Luis campaign that robo calls and a website attacking Luis do not show up on the Traub’s campaign finance reports. If true, who paid for them?
In Davie District 2, Caryl Casey-Hattan is the obvious favorite of many special interests. She got last minute money from Waste Management, the Fraternal Order of Police, the Realtors PAC and lobbyist Ron Book and his wife.
Her opponent Freda Sherman Stevens didn’t have a final report posted on the town’s website. If she is at fault, I find her lack of candor extremely sleezy.
District 3 candidate Terry Santini also has no final report posted. Again, this appears to be an inexcusable, shady attempt to hide her finances before the election.
In earlier reports, Santini got $1,250 from affordable housing interests. I wonder if some affordable housing is planned for District 3?
Santini’s opponent, incumbent Town Council member Susan Starkey, has gotten special interest money in this race Waste Management, Realtors PAC, lobbyists like Bill Laystrom’s law firm, etc. Remember, however, that Santini has not disclosed all her contributors as of the weekend.
One interesting face: Democratic Party activist Phil Busey has donated voters lists to the GOP darling Susan Starkey. Three years ago, Busey lost a bid for town council against Starkey.
Busey also sold walk lists to Marlon Luis for $400.