Ethics Update: Commission Reverses Itself On Reform


How can eight county commissioners, supposed political mavens, be so oblivious to the political fallout that would be generated by their attempts to kill ethics reform?

They reminded me of Texas GOP Congressman Joe Barton, who apologized to BP for the oil company being made to pay $20 billion into a fund for relief. He was immediately hit by a firestorm from every corner Democrats and Republicans and was forced to retract his statement within hours.

Like Barton, blogs and newspapers savaged the Broward County Commission.  The public poured e-mailed into eight commission inboxes.

I say eight because Sue Gunzburger forced the other eight commissioners to reconsider Tuesday. 

She made one mistake last week by voting to send the issue to a judge.  She quickly backtracked after consulting with her lawyer son, Ron Gunzburger.  

Gunzburger said that her flawed vote to stop ethics reform was forced on her by Newton.

Newton’s memo to commissioners called the proposed laws unconstitutional. He threatened that any commissioner who voted in favor of the laws before they were reviewed by a judge could face personal money damages because they were ignoring the advice of their counsel, i. e., him.

By Monday night, Gunzburger was working to reverse what she called Newton’s “flawed advice.”  She sent 1,200 supporters an e-mail asking they flood the commission inbox demanding ethics reform.

“Many of my colleagues, by contrast, have been lukewarm at best and hostile to reform at worst, stated Gunzburger’s e-mail.

That’s not the way to win friends among her colleagues, but it worked.

She shamed fellow commissioners dropped the foolish plans to ask a judge whether the new rules are constitutional before putting them on the ballot.

If not for the pressure Gunzburger applied to the commission through the media and her supporters, the public wouldn’t have a chance to vote on ethics reform later in the year.

Commissioners had the gall today to attack Gunzburger for creating what Kristin Jacobs called a circus atmosphere surrounding the ethics question.

Hey, Jacobs. You and your fellow commissioners created a circus atmosphere by trying to block ethics reform.

“This commission has been acting honorably and with high integrity when it comes to ethics reform,  Jacobs is quoted in the Sun-Sentinel.

Earth to Jacobs.

The public voted in 2002 demanding tough new ethics laws.  Eight years later, nothing has been done….and the commission is still trying to stop them.

The happiest group today may be the lobbying contingent at the Broward Government Center.  If the law passes, they won’t  be competing with members of the commission for lobbying work in Broward cities.

“When a lobbyist goes to Pompano Beach and Ilene Lieberman is on the other side for another client, do you think that lobbyist is happy?” said the insider.  

And if the new laws pass, lobbyist won’t have to treat commissioners to expensive lunches or vacations or gifts.

“The only reason they have been doing this is (lobbyists) believe everybody has to do it to get access to the commissioners, said the insider. “ The reality is that we are sick of these moochers who have their hands out for freebees all the time.




After this was posted, Steve Geller contacted me. Geller, who is Gunzburger’s opponent in the Democratic primary, asked after reading this article if I was “either managing Sue’s campaign or are you just her press secretary?”


“Yesterday, at 10:41 PM, 6 days after her vote, but only 8 hours after my e-mail, Sue decided that she needed to respond to my e-mail, and sent out one of her own.  Most people were in bed by the time that they received it Monday night.  Yet you assume that her e-mail, sent out late Monday night, was somehow able to generate enough support by Tuesday Morning that it was the sole reason the commission changed their mind.  Bullshit!  And you don’t even mention her e-mail as a response to mine.”

Sorry, Steve.  I neglected to say that some of that e-mail bombarding commissioners came from your supporters, too. 

After talking to commissioners, I still believe Sue was the person most instrumental in turning this around, although Steve Geller provided valuable help, too.

19 Responses to “Ethics Update: Commission Reverses Itself On Reform”

  1. Geller Lies says:

    Sue Gunzburger proved her dedication to ethics laws.

    Lobbyist Geller’s ads are lies. Sue’s actions showed that.

  2. Yaki says:

    Really???? Gunzburger needs to go home already. She’s been there way too long!!! Vote out ALL incumbents…they are entrenched in all this corruption. Out, OUT, OUT with all of them!

  3. Fact Check says:

    So, Yaki, you want to vote out the only reformer (Gunzburger) on the Commission and relaxed her with a lobbyist (Steve Geller). How does that help fix anything? Seems to make it even worse if you get your way.

  4. Out with the old says:

    Hey Fact Check,

    Sue Gunzburger voted AGAINST ethics before she voted for ethics. What a joke. She has shown her true colors. The only reason why she has back tracked is because she remembered she’s in a campaign and isn’t supposed to let people know the “true unethical” Sue.

    Seriously, Sue has made a habit of getting advice from Ron “I wouldn’t have my job if not for mommy’s connections” Gunzburger on all issues. Why didn’t she get his advice before this one? Probably because she didn’t want to. Probably because she wanted to vote her heart, which is a cold, unethical snake heart.

    BTW, why is a county lawyer for the Property Appraiser advising any commissioner on ethics? That in itself is a conflict of interest and unethical. I do not want my tax dollars used for Ron “I campaign on taxpayer dime” Gunzburger to advice his Mommy when he’s supposed to be advising Lori Parrish and Lori Parrish only! I think I will be making a formal ethical complaint on this.

    BTW, LOBBYIST SUE Gunzburger is part of the culture of corruption. Yes, you heard right, LOBBYIST SUE! LOBBYIST SUE who did not vote on her husband’s proposal but did speak to her colleagues on the commission who did vote for it. LOBBYIST SUE who got her son and daughter jobs on the county payroll. LOBBYIST SUE who retaliated against the sheriff for firing his daughter for lying and failing to show up for work. LOBBYIST SUE who has her son Ron run her campaign on county dime and apparently has the county paying him to be her personal advisor! LOBBYIST SUE who IS part of THE PROBLEM!

  5. Mutton snapper says:

    What the he’ll is Geller going to do if the law passes as he can’t line his pockets legally.

  6. Floridan says:

    Let’s see, who is more credible? Buddy Nivens or Kristin Jacobs?

  7. Broward Attorney says:

    Buddy, you’ve got the Geller people ranting like lunatics tonight. They’re confusing their candidate (LOBBYIST Steve Geller) with their opponent (former classroom teacher and social worker Sue Gunzburger).

    I’m a lawyer (duh, look at my regular posting name!) and I don’t get their complaints about her son Ron. He has first amendment rights to help his mother with legal advice and what not outside of the office. It would probably be news if her son wasn’t supporting his own mother. Isn’t Geller’s wife and kids (I presume he has kids?) supporting Geller? What’s the big deal here?

  8. Independent says:

    You more than anybody know that what you see on the surface is not what’s bubbling underneath.

    The commissioners have spoken in favor of the ethics code. They also voted to move forward with the Ethics Commission code and at the same time pursue the judge’s opinion.

    They themselves have placed their own ethics rules on the agenda in August.

    These include the formation of an OIG office; banning campaign managers who are also lobbyists (and there are many)from lobbying the county; making the ethics codes applicable to all county employees and the property appraiser, sheriff and elections supervisor (if brought under the charter.)

    The ethics commission is not without sin in this game, if you do your homework you will see that the ethics commission themselves were told components of the ordinances they were proposing were unconstitutional and they are ON THE RECORD AS SAYING publicly to move forward with it anyway.

    They even threatened to fire their own attorney for opining on the ordinances.

    The County Commissioners are seasoned professionals and were well aware of the political fall out Buddy…they did the right thing anyway. No one should defend flawed law…not even you. Please check the facts.

    It is no wonder anybody who has watched the process distrust the motives of the commission. We’ve waited eight years and only seen stalling by commissioners, who have done NOTHING. What is their possible excuse for EIGHT YEARS OF INACTION?

  9. A Rational View says:

    I understand those saying that asking a judge to review the constitutionality of the ethics reforms was just another attempt by the county commission to kill ethics reform. The commission has earned that level of contempt on this issue because of their refusal to implement reforms previously. That refusal is what caused the ethics commission to be created. There is no question that the county has consistently tried to confound any effort to create county ethics reform.

    However troublestome, those facts do not excuse taking any risk that ethics reforms put before the people for a vote may not meet the requirements of the law. If the county’s attorney believes that these proposed reforms may not be legal then asking a judge to examine that language is the responsible thing to do. Objection to that request would be irrational. How can Broward risk adopting ethics reforms that are illegal?


    Although a commissioner I trust told me elements of the Sun-Sentinel story was inaccurate, that newspaper stated there were “questions” whether Ilene Lieberman wrote the decision rather than the county attorney. But I haven’t seen proof.

    You, however, hit the nail on the head. The commission has done nothing for eight years. I covered a meeting four years ago for the Sun-Sentinel where commissioner after commissioner gave excuses why they couldn’t institute the ethics reforms that voters had demanded.

    One excuses many embraced was their need to continue to get free tickets to charity events because they help raise money for worthy causes. Of course, they didn’t say that they strongarm lobbyists into giving money to these events. Lobbyists can’t refuse because they need commissioners’ votes. Its a smarmy quid pro quo system that ethics reform will end.

    Another excuse was that forbidding them from lobbying was interferring in their ability to make money. No comment needed on that.

  10. Shocker? says:

    Does the County Commissions actions shock anyone? The voters voted for term limits, Rodstrom and Scherer are trying get that thrown out. It is obvious no one on that Commission cares about anyone but themselves and their lobbiest friends.

  11. Sue Gunzburger Campaign says:

    We would note lobbyist Steve Geller’s disingenuous call for ethics reform was just a stunt. It came days after Sue’s public exchange of emails with the County Attorney demanding the lawsuit be dropped. Geller’s email came after Sue testified Friday before the Ethics Commission (for the 3rd time) supporting their entire package of reforms. Geller, by contrast, never spoke to the Ethics group even though some of the Ethics panel members suggested he do so (after he privately lobbied some of them to kill the reform packages’s lobbying ban). As Buddy likes to write: Hmmm.

  12. Nonsense says:

    Neal De Jesus, chairperson of the Ethics Commission, has no excuse….he will not even discuss the issue in is own town, and, he got the appointment to the commission by being a political hack for the BLOC and by default became chairperson. The truth is Commissioner was in his first year as an elected official, having never served in public elected office before. Don’t let the pastor stuff mislead you.. To suggest he had an experience to provide intelligent input requires a huge amount of gullibility that most 6th graders would know better. Then to be appointed chairperson where leadership skills, experience and just a modicum of awareness of the problems of the Broward political sphere would be a minimum necessity for any expectation of success is essential. To see that at the last minute the whole thing is crumbling from weakness both externally and probably internally is hardly a surprise. The tragedy of this mushrooming debacle is that once again the residents of Broward will be subjected to the political mechanizations of elected bureaucratic double talk and flimsy screams of unconstitutionally. What about the constitutionality of just following your oath of office and good common sense and then simply laying it down on papers so that any reasonable audlt with a basic education could understand that you don’t do things that the odor should tell you that if it smells bad it probably is bad.

  13. Geller Lies says:

    If Geller is such a successful lawyer, how come he is so desperate to become a county commissioner?
    Geller needs a political job to drum up legal clients. If he loses, watch for him working out of a store front and passing out cards in the hospital lobby.

  14. Are you kidding says:

    To Gunzberger camp says,
    Are you kidding me? You are calling Geller’s call for ethics a stunt. Eveyone knows Gunzberger’s push for ethics reform is purely because she is running for reelection. Where were her ethics when she made millions of dollars from her plastic benches while she was on the commission? The same commission that awarded her company county contracts. Was she looking out for the taxpayers while she was lining her own pockets?

  15. Wrong Approach says:

    Commissioner De Jesus should be thanked for serving on the ethics board and for chairing that committee. Stop being ignorant, thankless and rude.

  16. Sue Gunzburger Campaign says:

    As Buddy has repeatedly noted: Sue has been pushing serious ethics reforms since 2001. Unlike Geller, who discovered ethics for the first time just last week. But we’ll gladly welcome him to the cause as a new convert.

  17. Rjc says:

    Thank you Sue you proved actions speaks louder than words. Dont let them get you down

  18. Gimme a Break says:

    Hey Gunzberger Campaign,according to your post above Sue has been ineffective at getting ethics reform for the last nine years. I agree that she is ineffective and that is why it is time for her to go. Was she pushing so hard for ethics reform before, during or after she made all her money from her plastic benches while she was so called serving the people.

  19. Yaki says:

    Let’s face it, Gunzburger is part of the problem. If this commission can’t pass these reforms, then VOTE THEM OUT ONE BY ONE! She needs to go.