Fear Of Feds Spurred Rodstrom’s Tough New Ethics Plan


County Commissioner John Rodstrom is proposing tough new ethics laws because he is scared.

Scared of federal agents interested in the relationship between Broward commissioners and lobbyists.

Scared of the feds and a possible undercover sting operation underway. 

Scared of the hidden video cameras and secret tape recordings.

Scared of going to jail.

What triggered all of this?

“A reliable source told him that federal agents are “investigating commissioners raising money from lobbyists for charities.

So he wants to take away any reason the feds would be interested in Broward commissioners. 

He wants to crack down on the you-pat-my-back-and-I’ll-pat-yours bond between lobbyists and commissioners.

He has proposed prohibiting county commissioners from raising money for charities and other candidates’ campaigns.  The money is usually raised from lobbyists.

John and Charlotte Rodstrom at 2005 charity event for Broward Housing Solutions

The story of Rodstrom’s move to dramatically toughen the county’s ethics laws was broken today by my pal Scott Wyman at the Sun-Sentinel. 

Wyman’s story is here.

Rodstrom spoke to me after the Sun-Sentinel story was posted.

He says he is no hero.  There is no halo floating over his head.

His ethics proposal stems from fear of the feds.

He asks: When commissioners ask lobbyists for money and then vote for their clients, will the feds interpret it as an illegal quid pro quo?

“We are in untested waters here. It’s very scary, Rodstrom says. “Behavior that was innocent and you thought was okay, might be against the law.

Rodstrom’s proposal could potentially cripple some Broward charities.

Charities like the Broward Boys & Girls Club and the United Way collect thousand of dollars raised by commissioners from their lobbyist friends.

Here is how it works:

The charity asks the commissioner to sell tickets to an event.

The commissioner asks lobbyists, who buy up thousands of dollars worth of tickets.

“To raise money, you (the commissioners) go to the people you know.  Those are the people who do business with the county, Rodstrom says.

In the case of the Mayor’s Ball which benefits the United Way, more than $100,000 is raised mainly from insiders.  Almost every table is purchased by lobbyists and others doing business with the county.

The lobbyists then invite commissioners to sit at their tables for free, while others are paying hundreds of dollars-a-ticket.

“Everybody who is there is paying the price to be with you (the commissioner) and talk to you for a couple of hours, Rodstrom says.

The whole business is smarmy. Part of what’s wrong with county government is commissioners begging money from and socializing endlessly with lobbyists.

But is it illegal?

 Rodstrom fears it is illegal for the following reason:


Commissioners asked the lobbyists to donate money.  Commissioners ate at expensive charity events and the lobbyists picked up the tab.

Sometime later, commissioners will be asked to vote for the clients of the same lobbyists.

Yes, commissioners can abstain from voting.

But if commissioners abstained from voting for every lobbyist who bought tickets to the Mayor’s Ball, the weekly agenda would be the Pledge of Allegiance followed by Adjournment.

Rodstrom believes the best way to handle the potential conflict is to forbid it.

His proposal will be voted on April 14.

Win or lose, Rodstrom says:

“I’m not raising money for anybody or any charity ever again.

Why, he was asked?

“Because I don’t want to go to jail.


11 Responses to “Fear Of Feds Spurred Rodstrom’s Tough New Ethics Plan”

  1. Nancy says:

    When in doubt, try and legislate rather than simply doing the right thing and make sure you don’t break any laws.

    How typical of politicians these days.

  2. In The Know says:

    Rodstrom can’t really believe that the feds are investigating charity donations. He is just saying all this to shake up his colleagues, especiallyIlene Lieberman and Stacy Ritter, two he dislikes.

  3. A World Gone Mad says:

    When elected officials can’t help raise funds for charities, most of which perform necessary public services, because that’s considered unethical or worse, because they fear going to jail as a result, that’s all the evidence that anyone should need that the world has gone mad. This is the antithesis of ethics and if law, it is the law then it is the worst kind of law. When a public official appears at a charitable function that offers a public service, that’s work not pleasure and it should be considered official duty to be there. It is part of what representing the people is about and they should be allowed to eat, no matter who pays. This is BS. It will do greater harm than good. Nobody sells their vote for a lousy chicken dinner. Go after the payola that’s where the problem is not charity events. Grow up and get real before you do more harm than good.

  4. Roddie Is Right says:

    Rodstrom is a refreshing politician for the county commission. This is a group that has so many ethical laps there is not enough space on the Internet to elaborate. Ilene Lieberman and Josephus Eggeletion are paid lobbyists in addition to being county commissioners. This is apalling. Eggeletion is just a scum bag. Lieberman is a woman on the make for a higher status and she has been since she was “mayor” of Lauderhill. Rodstrom should extend his proposal farther and nobody who is a commission should be allowed to lobby anybody. They should not be lobbyists.

  5. Gunzburger Supported This says:

    Sue Gunzburger has long backed stronger ethics laws for county commissioners and believes lobbyists should be registered and controlled. She was years ahead of Rodstrom on this.

  6. Day late and a Dollar Short says:

    In United States v. Rodstrom or Ritter et. al.
    Court: Defense, now the the government has rested, do you wish to put on any evidence?
    Defense lawyer: Yes your honor. The defense will call Unidicted Comissioner X who will testify that my client could not have been corrupt, because he/she introduced an ordinance after-the-fact which did away with the funny business which led to the charges in the first place.
    Court: An ordinance after the alleged wrongdoing took place?
    Defense lawyer: Yes your honor, it is called “closing the barn door after the cow has gotten out” defense.
    Court: Call your witness sir.

  7. mommy mommy says:

    lookie here lookie here my mommy is running for reelection and she did something

    yeah thanks ron

  8. In The Know says:

    Here’s a guy who would only agree to vote in favor of the Arena being built in Sunrise if his former bond company was given some of the bond work. This is the same guy who made millions of dollars on the taxpayer’s backs while strong-arming cities into using his bond company. Now that rumors are rampant that the feds are coming down on county commissioners, he’s going to play Mr. Ethics. Give us a break Rodstrom and go crawl back under your rock!

  9. Charlotte's Bitch says:

    While Johnny Boy is talking about ethics at the county commission, he is traveling around trying to pressure cities into refinancing their bonds and then lining his pockets with big fees.

  10. Floridan says:

    While Johnny Boy is talking about ethics at the county commission, he is traveling around trying to pressure cities into refinancing their bonds and then lining his pockets with big fees.

    Since interest rates are down, this may not be a bad idea for many government agencies.

    In what way is he applying “pressure”? Do you really think any city would refinance a bond if the interest rate wasn’t lower? Plus, most – if not all – governments put their bond refinancing out for bids.

    If you know a city that has refinanced at a higher rate, I would be interested in knowing exactly what municipality that might be.

  11. Justices Will Decide If Corruption Law Is Too Vague : BrowardBeat.com says:

    […] My story on Rodstrom’s idea is here. […]