Law Suit: School System Researched Employee & Family Voting Records To Promote Bonds





The school system analyzed the voting records of its employees and their families and turned them over to a political consultant to promote the $800 million bond referendum, according to a lawsuit filed Monday.

The suit was filed in Broward Circuit Court by the Strategic Message and Design Group alleging they were not paid for bond campaign work. It is the latest setback for the troubled school bond referendum.

On the surface, the suit appears to be a simple contract dispute…. until the complaint is read. Then it is clear that the suit raises political implications much larger than the $26,293.51 that Strategic contends it is owed.

There are the privacy ramifications that a government would use tax money to gather and analyze the voting records of its employee and their families.

Then there is the allegation that despite a state law forbidding the use of tax money for campaigning, the pro-bond effort is being run by Superintendent Robert Runcie and his director of governmental affairs, Sheela VanHoose, a school system employee.

At the heart of the law suit is the claim that the Citizens for Safe and Modern Schools political committee, which contends it is running the pro-bond campaign,  is a “sham.”  The committee was “created to hide the participation” of the Broward School Board, Runcie and VanHoose in directing the campaign and fund raising, the suit states.

State law prohibits the use of public money to advocate for the bond referendum.

Alan Levy, chair of the Citizens for Safe and Modern Schools, issued the following statement by e-mail:

“It is unfortunate that this blog continues to spread misinformation about the Broward School Bond effort by promoting the false allegations of a disgruntled former consultant trying to tarnish the campaign after being terminated for not fulfilling his contractual obligations. These miguided efforts only hurt Broward kids and their education. The passage of this bond will provide much needed security equipment and modern day technology to ensure our kids are safe and are able to compete for jobs of tomorrow.”

The accusations raised in the suit can’t be brushed off.  They come from veteran nationally known political consultant Bob DiLella, president of Strategic.  He worked inside the bond campaign and every claim is carefully detailed in the legal complaint.

The suit contends there are many examples of how Runcie and VanHoose are running the bond campaign:


  • As an inducement for DiLella to become involved in the bond campaign, the school system supplied the firm with the analysis of the voting records of employees and their families.
  • Runcie picked the name of the political committee and Runcie and VanHoose engineered its formation.
  • Runcie determined the membership of the political committee and picked its chair, businessman Levy.
  • DiLella was told by Runcie and VanHoose that between $500,000 and $750,000 would be raised for the campaign and a campaign office would be opened. None of that happened and has led to an allegation of fraudulent misrepresentation in the suit.
  • DeLella received his instructions from VanHoose, not the political committee.

Runcie and VanHoose could not be reached for comment.



Sheela VanHoose (from Twitter)


The entire suit is below. Among the most interesting portion of the suit is Count V, the allegations that the committee is simply a bogus artifact created to hide the problematic participation of Runcie and VanHoose.

Filed Complaint



(Full disclosure: Strategic Message and Design Group’s lawyer’s firm has represented me, Buddy Nevins, on various legal matters.)


45 Responses to “Law Suit: School System Researched Employee & Family Voting Records To Promote Bonds”

  1. VanHoose in 2012 says:

    Was Rick Scott Staffer Behind 2012 Dirty Trick On Broward GOP Board?

    Back in July 2012, controversy erupted over secret recordings of Broward County Commissioner Chip LaMarca scolding Broward GOP Chairman Richard De Napoli over attempts to discipline the Broward GOP Secretary. This amateurish ploy ended up on local television after a police report was filed. Who was the Broward GOP secretary allegedly facing disciplinary action? Yep, Sheela Venero Van Hoose, the staffer for Governor Rick Scott behind the censoring of REDBROWARD.COM.

    Broward GOP sources tell RED BROWARD the whole mess started at an RPOF Quaterly meeting where Van Hoose maneuvered her way onto an RPOF committee. Richard DeNapoli, then Broward GOP chairman, spoke to Van Hoose regarding her breach of protocol. Sources say she didn’t take it well, leading to a continuing rift with DeNapoli.

    Sound familiar?

    Last week, after exposing a plot to place her that very same committee, Van Hoose censored RED BROWARD. Multiple media outlets attempted to contact Van Hoose and the Governor for comment. As of Monday January 14, 2013 RED BROWARD remains off the air.

    Back 2012, at a “Coffee With The Secretary” meeting hosted by Van Hoose, shills in the audience questioned Broward Commissioner LaMarca about attempts by De Napoli to discipline Van Hoose. LaMarca said, “[DeNapoli] doesn’t have any right or ability to remove…or recall [Van Hoose]. The comments, recorded by a local blogger, lead to the filing of a police report. Broward GOP leadership contended the unauthorized recordings were illegal under Florida law.

  2. the titanic says:

    Why would anyone give to this group knowing a percentage of their donation is going towards attorney’s fees.. Between legal fees, Goldmyers cut and the fee for Ashley “take your dough” Walker how much could be left for the school board effort.

    I’m voting for CSC they at least have worked for my vote.

  3. No On Bonds says:

    This is it with me. These people are dishonest. I hope all the Democrats out there remember that VanHoose is a Rick Scott Republican who worked for Scott’s election and works on his current re-election.

  4. Sick of Runcie says:

    I wouldn’t be surprised if they don’t give every supervisor and principal a day off on Election Day to go door to door with their employees and drag them to the poll.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Runcie is trying everything he can to put his thumb on the scale. He’s from Chicago. His butt buddy Desmond Blackburn is probably in the cemetery writing down names so that the dead can vote in the election just like in Chicago. He will do anything legal or illegal to win this $800 million because he is jealous of Carvalho in Dade. Carvalho is a leader. Runcie is not.

  6. BCPS Employee says:

    Sweet justice has been served! The corruption begins at the top! Employees who know our schools are in need wouldn’t trust Robert Runcie with a dime, let alone 800 million dollars! We’ve seen the lies and we’ve suffered the consequences of speaking out for what is right. Enough is enough! Here’s what I have to say to you Robert Runcie…you know what you’ve done. it’s just a little lawsuit. Good luck Nov 4th! Looks like you’ll be needing it!

  7. John. WAYNE says:

    When I want to be depressed I read these blogs. Everything is a conspiracy Or we’re dealing with incompetent And or dishonest people. My wish is one day That I will read a positive spin On a current event. Just because you’re Republican Does not mean that you have to a pool is everything on the Democrats

  8. John. WAYNE says:

    So because you do not like the superintendent We should vote no on the bond so that the children Will pay the price. $50 per year Or about $4.50 per month Is too much at risk So vote no for the bond And yes for medical marijuana.

  9. Serpent of Schools R.R. says:

    “Sick of Runcie” took the words right out of my mouth. Maybe his Chief of Intimidating Staff Jeff Moquin and his Chief of School Performance and ZERO Accountability officer Desmond Blackburn can round up all the activity buses in the district and shuttle voters to the polls. He could bring in more of his Chicago buddies and pay them to drive! Where is his pal Chester Tindall? I’m sure for the right price he’d forgive Runcie for throwing him “under the bus” and making him take the fall for the whole transportation debacle. This looks like a classic case of Karma.

  10. To John Wayne says:

    Truth hurts and of course someone has to turn it into “party politics.” The truth is our schools and our students need the money but if it is misspent, they will never see another dime! Our schools need more than 800 million dollars and if we allow a corrupt, egotistical, lying politician mismanage it like he’s mismanaged our Capital Dollars, we might as well pack it in! Let me remind you that the “Needs Assessment” is FULL of lies to bring in votes! Safety? Lead paint? You should feel insulted that he would even think you would fall for his lies and yet you support him? Extremely sad! You’ll get my vote when you get read of Robert Runcie and his BS Leadership Team! I have nothing but disgust for the man that has destroyed the school district I love, believed in, graduated from and came back to work for! Blame it on party affiliation if that helps you sleep at night!

  11. Correction... says:

    Get RID of Robert Runcie

  12. Hmmmmm says:

    I wonder how much this case would have settled for pre suit? No matter what the price it had to be less than all of the bad press which will cause more people not donating or give support.

    You would think with top legal minds like Bob Butterworth and Lemieux involved with SMART they would have resolved this before suit was filed.

    if it wasn’t for bad press generated by Runcie and van hoose this bond would have no press at all.

  13. Juliet Hibbs says:

    Karma is a serious issue for these people NOW! They HUNTED good people for NOTHING! They stole the money that should have been used in the classroom! Mr. Runcie personally has done more to destroy Broward Schools than anyone before him! I have been asking for that ass to resign since dec 2012! He is a CRIMINAL for what he and his friends have done to staff and students….this is NOT a is truth If this was your child would YOU want them in Broward schools under runcie??
    Please someone let me know when his perp walk is…so I can tell him how good he looks in orange!

  14. Juliet Hibbs says:

    John Wayne, many of us have be exposing financial abuses in Broward…not to mention the actual child abuse! THAT is why we do not want the Bond to pass…no money will make it to the students or staff anyway!
    There is OH so much more…what you have evidence of and what you know are often two different things! I KNOW exactly the scum these people are! want to know more email me John Wayne and I will share plenty of evidence with you!

  15. count l f chodkiewicz chudzikiewicz says:

    Dr runcie is apparently violating state law, not exactly the right kind of example for the youth.

  16. Google Maps says:

    Is the group Citizens for Safe and Modern Schools registered to a Stiles office? How convenient that the superintendent would get involved with a construction firm to promote his bond issue.


    Citizens for Safe and Modern Schools’ address is 301 E. Las Olas Boulevard, Fort Lauderdale, which is a Stiles-owned building and is the location of Stiles’ HQ.

  17. Kevin Cerino says:

    So, you are saying that using taxpayer resources to promote the bond issue is bad? What about what the Broward Children’s Services Council is doing?

    I’ve been living in South Florida for nine years now, and they have kept a pretty low media profile. Suddenly they are a sponsor of WLRN-FM and running ads on TV. There are no disclosures on the ads saying that they were paid for by a political committee, so it is pretty safe to assume that they are funded by tax dollars.

  18. Another BCPS employee says:

    There is so much unnecessary $$ added to the Bond issue we can’t vote for it. For example 2 schools have close to a million dollars EACH listed for their Media Centers neither have an open Media Center due to cuts made to staff (same with other schools)! One of them DBMS was just remodeled about 6 years ago for over half a million! Claims $$$ to fix the bathroom “laboratory”; there is NO “laboratory” never has been. Needs $ for sound system & new ceiling mounted LCD projector which is already there & working just fine! The schools NEED $$$ but can’t trust them & how the money will really be used & how much will be pocketed. Same old story, just different players; unfortunately, it’s our future (the students) who lose!!!

  19. Real Deal says:

    There is no condition in any Broward school so horrible that it can’t wait one more year for this group to get their shit together and produce a bond issue plan that makes sense.

    There should be no need for a crisis like this to get a bond issue passed. If they had done it the right way people would vote for it naturally.

    I say wait a year and let them regroup and come back with a plan that works.

  20. John. WAYNE says:

    So The Florida state government cuts funding for education While increasing funding for prisons. Yes it’s like saying that I will never fly in an airplane again Because in 1995AirTran crashed over the Everglades. The corrupt politicians went to prison There is a new board in place A new superintendent. And a new construction chief. It is definitely the superintendence perogative And part of his job description To identify Funding sources for our schools. So I have no problem With him Soliciting Financial support From the business community And the voters. Should we really wait another year For the lack of technology And roof leaks Safety And security. To be addressed.


    First of all, there is not a totally new Board in place. Ann Murray was first elected in 2008, Robin Bartleman in 2004 and several others were elected in 2010….before the latest Grand Jury report.

    Second of all, much of the staff remains the same.

  21. Unfair says:

    I think Shelia VanHoose is an unpolished gem that should have been utilized here. For someone who has accomplished so much by her late 20s how could anyone doubt her expertise in running a 800 million dollar bond effort?

    Look at her resume, BREC Treasurer, Volunteer for Rick Scott in 2010, I heard, though unconfirmed, she was very competent working for Gov Scott post election as Assistant to the Assistant in charge of keeping a good rotation of K-Cups for the office Keurig. No one should underestimate the effort to keep enough Green Mountain Blend, Dunkin, Jet Fuel and the popular Paul Newman flavors of K-Cups for a large office.

  22. John. WAYNE says:

    Buddy I said the corrupt politician Went to prison No longer on the board Or awaiting trial. The Facilities Department has been out sourced A private company As program managers. On October 30th The new facility chief Along with the program managers And the new director of purchasing Will be hosting a trade fair. Maybe you could attend And ask intelligent Pertinent questions Rather than the assumptions Off corruption and mismanagement

  23. Kim Armstrong says:

    As an employee of SBBC, I resent my personal voting record being made available to any person, organization or political group for ANY reason. In my opinion, Mr. Runcie and his cohorts have overstepped their authority as my employer. If I vote, how I vote or when I vote is none of their business. If I had been planning to vote for this bond, I definitely would be voting against it now. I do not trust these people any longer.

  24. Charlotte Greenbarg says:

    Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. 1995 redux.

  25. Charlotte Greenbarg says:

    John. Wayne, you’re either a system plant, or totally ignorant. Maybe both.

    The same people who were complicit in perpetrating the past abuses and lying to the Audit Committee are still in Facilities & Construction. Only the lower echelon employees were terminated.

    So we have URS (national reputation available with a google search “URS problems”)and exposed by Buddy prior, hired, along with McGladrey that’s supposed to be doing oversight along with a new Deputy who still keeps the old employees.

    Now that’s what you call streamlining and outsourcing. Figures.

  26. Ha Ha Ha says:

    @23 – Your personal voting record (not identifying who you voted for, only the elections you did or did not cast a vote in) is, by law, available to literally anyone. It is a matter of public record under Florida law.

  27. Andrew Ladanowski says:

    Let’s clarify Facilities Department was partially outsourced. The analogy I use to explain the outsourcing it like a football team that had a bad season. The facilities department did not replace the players, it replaced the water boy, the 2nd ring players, and replaced the food concession workers and tells the public it went thru rapid changes. Nothing changed. The people in charge are still in charge. The hard working grunts were let go. Recipe for disaster.

  28. Floridian says:

    If I vote, how I vote or when I vote is none of their business.

    You’ve got one out of three — if and when you vote are public records (as is your party registration), available to anyone or any organization. How you vote is not.

  29. John. WAYNE says:

    Charlatan greenberg.Your last courseSpeaks volumesOff your arrogance and ignorance. It would be more appropriate to respond to my comments That it was a personal attack. You never found honest person in Dade County. You never phone an honest or competent person in Broward County. How do you sleep at nights.

  30. John. WAYNE says:

    Charlatan greenbug. Not everyone will share your warped opinions That does not make one ignorant.

  31. @ Andrew says:

    Interesting to hear you refer to Tom Linder as a working grunt. There are a handful of PM’s, an architect and a new head of facilities there. That is it.
    Very entertaining to hear you fumble a football analogy though. Go Fins!

  32. Bells says:

    They need to clean the House at Broward Schools. Tons of corruption when it comes to budget. Runcie needs to go!!!! He has ruined Educators, Children, Parents, and the community!!!! Horrible!!!

  33. Schooler says:

    As an employee of the School District, I was outraged by the list of ridiculous overpriced items on the Bond Issue “wish list”… Now that I see the dirty tricks RR and Co. will pull to get their hands on hardworking citizens’ money… I will vote NO NO NO>.. and I will spread the word far and wide.
    Arrogance must be stopped!

  34. Kim Armstrong says:

    #26 & #28 – thanks for the clarification. Good to know it’s not illegal, but it sure is invasive. I still feel like Big Brother is checking to see if I’m a loyal follower. I receive company emails “explaining” how important it is for everyone to support SMART… they’ve become annoying in their frequency.
    Now, I find they are buying my voting record. Well, I guess they know how I’m voting now.


    Some find it intrusive that their employer, a government agency, checked the voting records of their employees, which includes party registration and frequency of voting.

  35. Floridian says:

    Although it may sound nefarious (and that may be the intention)the main purpose in looking at voting records is the allocation of resources. If a person doesn’t vote, or only does so for presidential elections, there is not much sense in spending campaign money soliciting their support.

    Also, the statement the “school system analyzed the voting records of its employees and their families . . . ” may be misleading in that the SOE office generally provides voter information by precinct or party; it cannot sort by a voter’s employer (it doesn’t have that information). Seems to me that it would be a very laborious task to segregate the 39,000 School Board employees, much less their families, from the 1,000,000+ registered voters in Broward.


    The allegation in the lawsuit is that the school system did that “very laborious task” — running their employee list and their families against the voters rolls to determine voting records.

  36. consultant says:

    It is a pretty laborious task to cross reference the list unless you have their voter ID numbers.

    Address matches are notoriously bad because of the variations of all the addresses. Just something as simple as 101 NE 1st St could be:
    101 Northeast 1 St
    101 NE 1st Street
    101 NE 1 St
    101 Northeast First Street
    101 Northeast 1st Street


    Added with the bad data input of voter data by the soe staff and it’s a monumental task to pull tens of thousands of records out of more than 1 million registrations and addresses.

  37. "Long Hair" aka John Wayne Killa says:

    The Duke sounds like a corrupt politician supporting corrupt politicians support a corrupt bond supported by the biggest Broward County Corrupt Corporate pockets.

    I will give everyone three guesses as to which companies make the most money off the backs of the self-taxing residents in the name of the all mighty dollar. Oops, I meant to say in the name of the children.

    Well, I would give three guesses, but I’m confident the informed will only need one.


  38. Andrew Ladanowski says:

    @31 I love that you can only list one person in upper management that was fired since Runcie arrived. URS is primarily grunts!

  39. "Long Hair" aka John Wayne Killa says:

    At #37 Floridian: The evaluation and comparison task isn’t that laborious with the proper software. Furthermore, if the data is provided in its raw form, a novice could complete the analysis with relative ease using Microsoft Excel.

    Nice attempt at a defense of the School Board’s egregious and outrageous conduct. I guess the excuse sounded good.

  40. "Long Hair" aka John Wayne Killa says:

    At John Wayne: Maybe Charlatan Greenburg meant to say she hasn’t met an honest politician in Broward! What say you, Mr. Politician John Wayne. We see you here at the ALAMO. Your final political stand.

  41. zgt says:

    I keep wondering why no one asks in the SMART bond initiative what the “M” and “A” stand for. Well they stand for “M” for music and “A” for arts and athletics. Has anyone asked where the money is coming from for those things. Music is being pushed but right now the budget for music is $1.5 million down from $2.5 million which was originally planned and that is not using the bond proposal. As for the “A”, the athletics are weight rooms for the high schools and nothing for elementary and middle schools. The school board is hoping the schools will use the $100,000 to fix playgrounds, etc. So the “A” and the “M” are really not being funded.

  42. @ Andrew says:

    Linder, Harrison, Herbst, Aragi, Golt, Butler, Carter….. All very senior staff. All gone.

  43. Andrew Ladanowski says:

    Carter Retired. Took his nice pension and ran away with Notter. Enjoying the easy life. Golt was a hobby job and did nothing! He was already retired once. He retired again! Take the top 100 earners in Broward Schools and 90% are still there from when Runcie started.

  44. John. WAYNE says:

    The Director of Facilities contracts is also Gone. Dennis Herman

  45. "Long Hair" aka John Wayne Killa says:

    Keep trying Duke, although it’s starting to sound desperate, I slightly admire your dedication. My only question now is, are you getting guaranteed votes in your future political aspirations? And, when the bond fails, will you have to refund your under-the-table lobbying fees? Or are you simply lobbying on behave of the “children”? Your motives are so obvious you’re clear, maybe that’s a new definition of political/governmental transparency.

    My peeps say, don’t trust the lobbyists (aka politicians) blogging behind the Guy Fox mask for their personal self interests.

    Yes Buddy, I just called your blog a guy fox mask. No offense intended.


    That would be Guy Fawkes.