BY BUDDY NEVINS
It took Sheriff Scott Israel less than two weeks to stumble.
When Israel publicly embraced the felonious former sheriff Ken Jenne at Broward Sheriff’s headquarters this week, he made a political blunder of spectacular proportions.
Spectacular because of the timing, roughly a week after Israel was sworn in as sheriff.
Spectacular because Israel doesn’t realize that the sheriff shouldn’t associate openly a felon. The felon, Jenne, did time in a federal pen after pleaded guilty to tax evasion and mail fraud conspiracy– crimes committed while sheriff.
Sheriff Scott Israel: Associating with a felon
Am I making too much of this?
My wife ran into a friend at the Fort Lauderdale Orchid Show. This woman brought up Brittany Wallman’s story in the Sun-Sentinel about Jenne’s visit to BSO, which I hadn’t read yet. She said she almost spit up her coffee when she read it.
Then a friend of mine called as I walked around the show. He had also read the story and said he was sorry he voted for Israel.
A third friend called before I left the show. He had just read the story and said Jenne’s visit was a “disgrace.”
It’s a disgrace is that Israel is so clueless about public perceptions.
It’s a disgrace is that Israel cadre of political advisers – at least four I can think of were newly hired by the sheriff, including his chief counsel Ron Gunzburger and chief-of-staff Lisa Castillo – didn’t warn him not to invite Jenne into the BSO HQ.
The disgrace is that Israel sent absolutely the worst possible message to his deputies: That is okay to openly associate with a felon.
“The man was the sheriff of Broward County and wanted to congratulate me,” Israel explained to the Sun-Sentinel. “You can’t even remotely put this into the same classification as the Bill Lewis type thing. It’s completely different [than] saying hi,”
Lewis was a campaign worker for the man Israel beat, Sheriff Al Lambert. A convicted felon, Lewis’ relationship with the Lamberti was criticized in Israel campaign ads.
The difference between these two felons: Lewis broke federal drug laws as a private citizen. Jenne used his secretary and other BSO employees for his own gain while in office.
The real difference: Lewis supported Lamberti. Jenne was a behind-the-scenes adviser for the Israel campaign.
Apparently certain felons are the right type of felon in Scott Israel’s new Broward Sheriff’s Department.