Florida Bar Suspends School Board Candidate

BY BUDDY NEVINS

A Broward School Board candidate was suspended from the practice of law last year for charging an excessive fee and not doing any work.

Nick Steffens‘ client filed a complaint with the Florida Bar.  When Bar investigators asked Steffens about the case, he ignored their questions, according to a consent agreement he signed.

Steffens was also accused in the complaint of agreeing to drop a Bar complaint against another lawyer in return for a legal settlement.

He agreed to a 10-day suspension, to repay his client $5,000 and to pay for the Florida Bar investigation.   He was also ordered to attend the Bar’s monitoring and treatment program for those with personal problems.

In the consent agreement signed Sept. 7, 2011, Steffens blamed his wrongdoing on “economic strain” and “anxiety” over his spouse’s loss of a job.

The dry language of the Florida Bar complaint describes what Steffens, the respondent, is accused of doing:

(The) “respondent wrote a letter to opposing counsel agreeing to the withdrawal of a Bar complaint by his client, if a settlement was reached. A Bar grievance was filed, as a result. The respondent failed to respond to The Florida Bar inquiries concerning his improper letter. As to Florida Bar File No. 2011- 50,776(17F), the respondent represented Stewart Huffaker concerning a mortgage audit matter and received a fee of $5,000.00. The respondent did not perform any services and was discharged. Despite multiple requests, the respondent failed to return the fee and a Bar grievance was filed. The respondent failed to respond to Bar inquiries concerning his lack of diligence and failure to return a fee. As to Florida Bar File No. 2011-51,226(17F)OSC, as indicated in the aforementioned cases, the respondent failed to respond to official inquiries by bar counsel.”

He broke six of the Florida Bar’s ethics rules, according to the complaint and consent agreement.

Steffens did not answer an e-mail for comment.

A Democratic political activist, jumped into the race for an open Northwest Broward School Board District 4.  There are now six candidates.

The other candidates are Louis Kushner, Andrew Landanowski, Jaemi Levine, Robert Mayersohn and Rochelle “Shelly” Solomon.

 



26 Responses to “Florida Bar Suspends School Board Candidate”

  1. RItter's Boy says:

    What a shock Stacy Ritter’s pal Nick Steffens is caught up in shady dealings, it is probably a requirement to get into Ritter Fraternity/Sorority.

    Is this who we want as an example for our children? Someone who violates the rules of ethics? Takes money from someone, fails to do the work and then ignores calls to return the money. Then attempts to blackmail/coerce a settlement from another attorney by saying a bar complaint wont be filed against that attorney. These are the values this guy wants to give to our kids?

    Another question that has to be asked is why is he running? He has no children in the school system and what could be seen as a suffering law practice, one has to wonder if he is doing this for the paycheck and benefits.

    I like the rest of the field, all seem to have good ideas and not ethically challenged. In fairness I support Jaemi Levine because of the things she has done to protect our kids from predators. If Jaemi doesnt come out of the primary I would be happy with any of the others besides Steffens, we have survived one ethically challenged SB Member in Kraft, no need for another.

  2. Setting it Straight says:

    RB,

    Just to set the record straight: Levine’s Non-profit Mother’s against Predators has been inactive since 09/24/2010. She cannot really use this in her campaign anymore. She once claimed it was a 501c or e and it never was either. Who knows what good this “non-profit ever did?

    There are a few qualified candidates in the School Board District 4 race, but we can see already that you are one of her cronies. Open your mind and get to know some of the other candidates out there. There are many good ones out there too.

  3. anonymous says:

    Maybe he wants to be on the school board BEFORE his kid makes it into the (currently screwed up) school system.

  4. Kinda Gross says:

    Nick seems to continue suffering from “anxiety” if you’ve ever met him, he seems pretty anxious about something to me….

    Being a member of the School Board in one of the largest public schools systems in the Country is a pretty stressful job. I don’t know if I want someone who can’t hack normal life to the point where he’s accused of stealing $5,000 from a client and won’t pay it back and then blames it on anxiety.

    I read what’s on the Florida Bar website about this guy. I wonder what his diagnosis from the mandatory counseling he was ordered to get would show?

  5. Coral Springs Politico says:

    What is Commissioner Ritter thinking, having the ethically challenged Nick Steffans on her campaign staff?? This is the same guy who was forcibly removed from a Mitt Romney event for his childish behavior. This is the same guy who had to resign from his post as precinct committeeman because…surprise!…he was living with his parents in…surprise!…Palm Beach County. He brings nada, zip, zilch, nothing to the school board race as far as skills and experience go. Wonder what Stacy and her hubby Russ Klenet will do when Steffans suffers another emotional meltdown? We all deal with stress, that’s life. What separates the good from the bad is how we deal with it. Nick Steffan’s temper tantrums and ethics violations make him unfit for the School Board. Great job Buddy for exposing this. Why no comment from my County Commissioner on this? Surely a smart woman like her has to know this guy’s a major liability for her. Is she endorsing him for School Board??

  6. Broward Dem says:

    Wow what a shock one of Levine’s stooges leaving a negative comment about her opponent.
    Nick is one of the hardest working grass roots organizers in the Broward Democratic Party and dedicates countless hours to advocate for positive change and progressive values in our community.
    The rest of the field are nobody’s doing nothing for our community.

  7. Lame-O says:

    Maybe you should get your own house in order before you spend “countless hours advocating for positive change”.

    So you can be accused of stealing money from a client, blackmailing another lawyer, and just because you have anxiety and concerns about his family economy, he gets a pass?

    Do we need to have some rule in Broward saying you have to at least have 1 year of no ethical violations or illegal conduct before you run for office again?

    Pathetic.

  8. LifesABeach says:

    Nick was Jaemi’s “campaign manager” before he decided to run against her. I’d love to watch the two of them go at it. No ethics, no regard for honesty, no knowledge of public schools, both are currently unemployed and both would sell their first born for an elected position.

  9. Buddy says:

    FROM BUDDY:
    There has been a lot of speculation here about Nick Steffen’s role in the re-election campaign of County Commissioner Stacy Ritter.

    Ritter’s campaign says “the only paid staff person she has ever had in this campaign is her Campaign Manager Samantha Senne”.

    Ritter told me that she is not involved in any way in the School Board race and is focused on her own campaign and re-electing the president.

    Steffens was a volunteer and Ritter says she has “been happy to have the support of dozens of volunteers and activists.”

    I don’t think Ritter should be connected in this misstep by Steffens in anyway.

  10. Seth R says:

    So he was having anxiety after his wife lost her job because she was the breadwinner??? Way to man up and take care of your household. Is he still married? Or did she ditch him for a real man who can provide more than hot air.

  11. Dear Buddy says:

    I am so glad Stacy cleared that up. What is next, someone going to accuse her of having Norma Goldstien as one of her Aide’s for political reasons?

    I see Comm Ritter forgot to mention while distancing herself from Mr. Steffens that Nick is her appointment to the Children’s Services Board. I guess Nick’s ethical lapses are negated by whatever MUTUAL BENEFITS they may provide each other. Sadly I am sure there are many who would be honored to serve on the CS Board who have the ethical problems of Steffens.

    On a final note to you Buddy, I saw in another recent post that people were saying you couldnt compare to Bob Norman. Not true. It seems Bob couldnt match your research skills when he wrote about Steffens getting in the race. Maybe to Bob the bar suspension, ethics, etc were not that important a story to him.

    http://www.local10.com/news/blogs/bob-norman/Democratic-activist-Steffens-running-for-school-board/-/3223354/10260140/-/dpquwyz/-/

  12. Democrat in Coral Springs says:

    Nick Steffens told everyone at the Coral Springs Democratic Club meeting a few months ago he was Stacy Ritter Campaign Manager. He is a very scary person with a violent temper. He verbally attacked members of the club that night. I will never go back because of him. My husband was worried for our safety.

  13. Git R Done says:

    Why is Jaime Levine running? Does she have any kids in the school system? Maybe someone needs to ask her “why”? she’s running and not because of her Mother’s Against Predators project? Maybe she’s doing that to get parents to think she’s helping them? It doesn’t make any sense because because Mother’s against Predators can’t do anything about out school system. The School System already has School Resource Officers around the schools. What makes her think she can help? This seems so weird and this is the 3rd time she’s running. Why is she so compelled to do this? Then again, what has happened to District 4 in all this time period since Kraft got indicted? None of this makes any sense anymore!

  14. Twitter me this twitter me that says:

    Interesting that Steffens has removed his Twitter page? I wonder if he had something on there he doesnt want anyone to see?Possibly the rumored tweet that he was co-campaign director for Ritter?

    http://twitter.com/nick_steffens

    FROM BUDDY:
    He didn’t get to all of it. Below is what a reader found by a backchannel. It is supposedly part of his profile on Steffens’ Twitter account until he closed it. I have asked the Ritter campaign for an explanation, but haven’t heard from them yet:

    Nick Steffens
    Proud Dad, Gen44 Regional Co-Chair, Dep. Campaign Manager for Stacy Ritter Re-Elect, Awake Broward Organizer, Civil Litigator. Opinions are mine only. Holler!
    NW Broward

  15. Anonymous says:

    Commissioner Ritter also appointed Jaemi Levine to the Diversity Advisory Council. Is Stacy responsible for her too?

  16. Seth R says:

    Holler Nick!! What do you have to say for your actions and for misleading the public about being Ritter’s “Deputy Campaign Manager”?

    Holler back

  17. Mitchell Levine says:

    LifesABeach You have to be one of Kraft’s butt lickers. If you would take the time to look at all the things Jaemi Levine has done for the children you would not be writting trash. Get your head out of Kraft’s ass and search the net for the good she has done.

  18. Selective Memory says:

    Commissioner Ritter also appointed Jaemi Levine to a comimittee. The Diversity Advisory Council. Is the commissioner also responsible for Jaemi?

  19. Buddy says:

    FROM BUDDY:
    Ritter’s campaign issued this second written statement to Browardbeat.com Friday about Steffen’s role in her campaign:

    “We have no deputy camp managers. We were
    told that at some meeting he identified himself in a number of campaign
    leadership roles for numerous candidates. As soon as we found out we made
    it clear that we appreciate his activism but Samantha runs the campaign.”

  20. Elroy John says:

    That second campaign statement is some of the most painfully meticulous wordsmithing I’ve seen in some time.

  21. Nick Who says:

    Ritter and her campaign’s game of Nick “who”? is getting old.

    Ok Stacy how about this one…

    I am sure it is just a coincidence that your appointment of Steffens to the Children Services Counel was done on 3-20-12 right before he announced for SB.

    Check out the link, the best is the letter from the County Attorney that shows Nick someone was cleared for the position, geuss attempting to permenantly borrow a retainer from a client and losing your bar license for a bit is no big deal to the County.

    http://205.166.161.204/agenda_publish.cfm?mt=all&get_month=3&get_year=2012&dsp=agm&seq=10831&rev=0&ag=295&ln=49884&nseq=&nrev=&pseq=10830&prev=0#ReturnTo49884

  22. @Privacy_Shades says:

    1) who is samantha? is that an actual person? ashley and russ run the campaign, everyone knows that. remember kids, russ=stacy.

    2) maybe you should ask these super specific questions: was this guy EVER a deputy campaign manager. whose idea was it. when did it stop. why did it stop.

    per veritatem vis

  23. Seth R says:

    Puh-lease! Ritter’s taken up with Steffans, her table at the DEC dinner was filled with Steffans and his young democrat friends. Everyone knows Ritter is throwing him under the bus now.

  24. LifesABeach says:

    Mitchell – crass as usual. When you or your family run for public office, you really should pretend that you have a little class. Your vulgar language is disgusting. But then again, Jaemi ran her last campaign on the attributes of KY jelly. Both of you should wash your mouths with soap before speaking in public.

  25. Charlotte Greenbarg says:

    All the more puzzling since BTU has just endorsed him. Don’t they care, or it is a case of not doing homework?

  26. Tracy & Brian Fleming says:

    We were clients of Mr. Steffens, and he required a $5,000.00 retainer from us for our case, and once received he filed the case then that was basically it.
    We have filed a complaint with the Fl Bar, and have asked him several times for our money back. I even contacted him on his twitter account and facebook account, and he deleted my commments almost instantly, and then I wasn’t able to post anything else. We begged him almost a year to finish our case with no luck. I even text his personal cellphone and once he found out it was me, he quit texting me back. Everyone has problems in life, this is no excuse to steal from people. I also have a friend who’s parents were also scammed by him, and its not the same as the one listed on the Fl Bar website.

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