Lawyer Discloses How Broward Health’s No-Bid, $71.4 Million Advertising Deal Was Done







Advertising mogul Jordan Zimmerman didn’t like Broward Health staff’s recommendation a year ago that his no-bid advertising deal be capped at $5 million.

So Zimmerman ordered the booklets containing the recommendations removed from Broward Health Commissioner’s chairs and replaced with his own proposal of $10 to $15 million, says an attorney hired by Broward Health.


Jordan Zimmerman

Jordan Zimmerman



“The meeting had been ‘hijacked’ by Zimmerman,” complained the late Broward Health CEO Dr. Nabil El Sanadi.

This vivid account of the planning and plotting behind theZimmerman contract is contained in a March 21 letter from attorney Mitch Berger to the public health system’s internal auditor Vinnette Hall.

Berger was hired to assist the Florida Office of Inspector General in its widespread review of Broward Health contracts.

The letter Berger produced from staff interviews and a review of documents is shocking. In dry legalese, the letter demonstrates what critics what complained about for years: Broward Health is rife with misspending, inside dealing and poor management.

Broward Health is run by a seven-member board appointed by Gov. Rick Scott. All the members are Republican and some are highly partisan.

Berger’s letter details how the wealthy advertising executive, one of GOP’s most visible, high rollers in Broward, had the public health system’s contract handed to him by the Republican appointees of Scott.

On May 4, 2015, El Sanadi signed a $2.1 million contract with Zimmerman. Despite Broward Health rules requiring such items be brough to the Broward Health Commission, Berger wrote that “we have been unable to locate any Board agenda item or other notice to the Board of the contract.”

Two months later, Zimmerman was complaining that his contract “was not sufficient to conduct an effective marketing campaign,” Berger wrote.

Commissioners discussed the advertising contract in September, 2015 and agreed to come back in October to discuss a plan.

To prepare for the October meeting, Broward Health Marketing Coordinator Doris Peek “together with Burt Sutcliffe from Zimmerrnan Advertising put together a detailed booklet for the Board’s consideration containing three distinct options for a marketing campaign together with media tactics in the amounts of a $ 2M, $3M and $5M outlay,” the attorney wrote.

“Approximately an hour before the October 30,2015 meeting, staff member Jenny Hughes at the direction of Zimmerman removed the booklets containing the three marketing options from the chairs of each Board member where they had been placed by Doris Peek. Doris Peek had been the person originally responsible for presenting the Zimmerman proposal, but according to (Nursing chief and Vice President) Mark Sprada, Dr. El Sanadi said that he wanted Peek ‘removed from the process’ because Zimmerman was complaining about her ‘interference.’”

“Once the meeting started, Jordan Zimmerman made a presentation with only two options, one for $10M and one for $15M. No media tactics or timetables were included in this presentation,” Berger wrote.

All this was plotted in a commission meeting that Broward Health General Counsel Lynn Barrett ruled could be closed to the public. She declared the meeting involved strategic planning and thus was exempt from Florida’s Sunshine Law, which requires most public business to be done in public.

Looking back at that meeting five months ago, Berger disagreed.

“Under the applicable statutes, the October 30,2015 meeting did not appear to qualify as a shade meeting according to the stated purpose of the meeting,” Berger wrote. “Ms. Barrett specifically characterized the meeting as a strategic planning meeting which, at least as it pertained to Zimmerman, was not (it did not meet the definition of strategic plan under the statute). Arguably, it could have been characterized as a discussion of trade secret
material. However, there was no official plan being discussed. The purpose of the shade meeting (as discussed at the budget hearings) and what was ultimately voted upon was to direct staff to go back and prepare a plan.”


Dr. Nabil El Sanadi, MD, MBA, FACEP, FACHE Broward Health President CEO Photographed in the Lobby of the Broward Health, Fort Lauderdale.

Dr. Nabil El Sanadi


Following the closed meeting, Sprada complained to “Dr. El Sanadi who said that the meeting had been “hijacked” by Zimmerman,” according to Berger.

Still, the expanded Zimmerman contract, now $71.4 million over six years, was due back before the Commission with El Sanadi’s support.

According to numerous sources, El Sanadi complained he was being pressured to sign the bigger deal with Zimmerman by political forces. Berger does not address those reports.

In late January, Zimmerman’s new contract was supposed to be approved by the Broward Health Commission. Before the meeting could be held, El Sanadi commited suicide.

The contract has been put on hold.

28 Responses to “Lawyer Discloses How Broward Health’s No-Bid, $71.4 Million Advertising Deal Was Done”

  1. Stacey says:

    My, my, my!
    This has the makings of a Lifetime Channel movie.

  2. Zig says:

    ……where hopefully the contract will now die.

  3. highway robbery says:

    Astute reporting and due diligence – kudos to Buddy Nevins and Dan Christensen!

  4. Christopher B Boyce says:

    As a former patient I didn’t like the staff either especially those in the both emergency rooms as well ass the hired security guards working the overnight shift on Nov 13th November 17th and Dec 21st 2014

  5. Pork Fried Rice says:

    Dear Broward Health Commissioners*:

    As a special taxing district you are a political subdivision of the state and are subject to the government in the sunshine law. Sunshine is to governments what Stark is to hospitals. Lynn has always been an “ok” Stark lawyer; she is an awful local government lawyer. Plus Lynn doesn’t work well with other humans. That’s why Myla shadows her. Sam was a great local government lawyer who didn’t know health law but was astute enough to farm it out. Sam played nice with other humans. Lynn is a problem.

    Now you can’t say you weren’t told.

    *Ure – I’m not sure you really are a commissioner.

  6. The Real Betrayal says:

    Just wondering how a VENDOR is permitted to give a directive an hour before commencement to “switch out” meeting materials at a quasi-governmental Board Meeting in the first place?


    That’s the problem. It is apparently how business is conducted at Broward Health.

  7. Broward Health Doc says:

    Doris Peek should get a medal for her courageous testimony in this odorous affair. The original plan was to divert millions from needed repairs and programs to pay for Zimmerman. Good work Buddy and Dan.

  8. Dear #6 says:

    Throw a big fundraiser for the Chairman’s wife Judicial campaign and hire his loser best friend, you too can call the shots at meetings.

    Maybe all that glitters with Mr. Dipetro is not all ethical gold.

  9. Count LF Chodkiewicz Chudzikiewicz says:

    The Voters of Florida twice elected a crooked businessman whose ripoffs of the US Taxpayer would have made him unelectable in States with educated involved decent electorates. Why anyone is surprised his appointees approved in violation of State Laws n regulations 71 Million in questionable at best advertising for hospitals surprises me.
    The problem is with the VOTERS who elect clowns n crooks in Florida time after time in recent years.

  10. zigy says:

    boy r we lucky to have at least one educated, involved voter…. three cheers for the count I guess he was not here when we elected all those honest porkchopers, I forget he was from the great city up north, the last bastion of honest politics… the home of the one and only Hilary and the don.

  11. One Word says:


  12. Alfalfa says:

    Let me see if I understand correctly.
    1.) Young and inexperienced Board Chair with political ambitions.
    2.) Picks inexperienced and totally unprepared CEO. But solid political buddy!!
    3.) CEO starts letting experienced people go “because”.
    4.) Board Chair political BFF starving and looking for income sources.
    5.) Board stuffed with political operatives with little to no business experience. After all it’s only a Billion $$ per year business.
    5.) And now people (reporters)want to know how did this happen????

    P.S. This has not been an ongoing thing at NBHD. Yes, this happened many years ago, but at least the Dems knew how to cover their tracks. Reps are young, arrogant and not nearly as smart. Previous CEO was apolitical and tried to run a business despite political board members constantly disrupting things. This will continue as long as Gov picks board. We taxpayers are screwed. About to pay a lot more to bail this place out.

  13. Forensic Audit Needed says:

    So where does the Dan Lewis puzzle piece fit into this?


    Dan Lewis — a local political consultant, activist and critic of North Broward — had nothing to do with the Zimmerman deal.

  14. Obamamatic says:

    How did the hospital board made up of republican Scott appointees end up with Obama’s main fundraiser in Broward as special council in a no-bid contract?


    Very interesting point.

    Broward Health Chair David Di Pietro engineered the hiring of lawyer Mitch Berger of Fort Lauderdale, the former finance chair of the Florida Democratic Party and the National Democratic Committee.

    Shortly after Broward Health hired Berger, Di Pietro was suspended by Gov. Rick Scott along with Di Pietro’s ally Commissioner Darryl Wright.

    Some cynical Broward pols say that Scott, a hyper-partisan Tea Party Republican, suspended Di Pietro (and Wright) for breaking the governor’s Golden Rule: Thou Shall Not Share Patronage With Democrats or Independents.


  15. WELL SAID says:

    Sad part is….if the good Dr. had not committed suicide, the deal could possibly have been completed……

  16. Broward Health doc says:


    Before you take David Di Pietro’s side in his suspension, remember that he was the one behind the Zimmerman deal.

    Zimmerman hired Di Pietro’s impoverished bestie, Chip LaMarca. Di Pietro paves Zimmerman’s way into Broward Health.

    If Di Pietro was innocent, why did he let Zimmerman “hijack” a commission meeting and shame staff members. Maybe its because they stood in the way of a lucrative contract that Di Pietro wanted to hand out.

    Di Pietro interfered in the investigation of Broward Health because they were getting close to him. The governor was right.

  17. Stormwatch says:

    Jordan Zimmerman and Rick Scott are close. Scott has appointed him as a USF Trustee. It all flows from the top. Strange that in spite of all the involvement Zimmerman has with Cleveland Clinic, Boca Regional Hospital and Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital, he hasn’t landed any of those accounts. A few advertising trade mags are picking up the story too.

  18. Charlie says:

    “this was plotted in a commission meeting that Broward Health General Counsel Lynn Barrett ruled could be closed to the public. She declared the meeting involved strategic planning and thus was exempt from Florida’s Sunshine Law, which requires most public business to be done in public.”

    Lynn Barrett is incompetent. That is so beyond the bounds of the law it is ridiculous.

  19. Zimmerman HR Dept says:

    Forensic Audit Needed says:
    So where does the Dan Lewis puzzle piece fit into this?

    Dan Lewis — a local political consultant, activist and critic of North Broward — had nothing to do with the Zimmerman deal.



    That news about his daughter might be true, but Lewis is a persistent and vocal critic of the system. So in answer to your question, he doesn’t fit into the Zimmerman deal at all.

  20. Knows For Sure says:

    Too bad about vendors having their hands in the cookie jar at the North Broward Hospital District. Otherwise, they could actually run the District in a quality manner.

    I live in the South Broward Hospital District. I have been in and out of Memorial Regional Hospital on Johnson St. in Hollywood many times as a visitor and regretfully also a couple of times as a patient.

    This district is run extremely well. Memorial Hospital is squeaky clean, exudes quality and a first-class feel. The facilities appear to be clearly in excellent condition and the staff is super enthusiastic, helpful and friendly.

    Recently, I went to visit a close friend (you know who Buddy) at North Broward Hospital. What an absolute DUMP. Poor sanitation, pock-marked, dirty walls that need paint. Staff was no where near as nice as Memorial. The place just looks DIRTY because it IS. Glad I do not live in that district.

    The stories about all the fiscal problems and no-bid deals within that district are clearly reflected in the condition of the facilities and attitudes of the staff.

    Shame the two districts cannot be combined and run by the South Broward Hospital District. They know what they are doing.

  21. Herd on the street says:

    Rumor has it Di Pietro wanted Conrad Scherer as counsel but they were conflicted out and then went to Mitch Berger. As someone said above, not all that glitters may not be ethical gold with Mr. DiPetro. .

  22. Howard the Moron says:

    @13 – you are absolutely correct the Dems have been ripping off taxpayers for personal gain for years. This new bunch of young Reps are not bright enough to steal like the Broward county Commission and the O’Bama Chicago crime family administration.

  23. WELL SAID says:

    Buddy….is David Fleshler’s sun sent. article true?


    Yes, it is. My take on the same issue is linked here.

  24. Count LF Chodkiewicz Chudzikiewicz says:

    @22 there is NO Obama. President Obama has NEVER BEEN CHARGED with ANY CRIME PERIID!
    Stupid disrespectful comments from the band of old White fundamentalist Protestant n right wing extremist Orthodox Jews and fascist leaning Roman & Orthodox Christians about our duly legally elected n re-elected President do nothing except move more of us moderate Reagan Democrats to go back to voting straight party except for Bruce Roberts for Mayor of Ft Lauderdale because he’s a Mensch.

  25. Howard the Moron says:

    Count….you are quite the bigot. I am none of the five groups you made derogatory statements about.

  26. Count LF Chodkiewicz Chudzikiewicz says:

    No matter how you cut the cake, people who blog under phoney names always turn out to be nightcrawlers.

  27. Howard the Moron says:

    Yup….and they speak the truth but cannot reveal who they are since your messiah and the rest of the criminal enterprise that extort from our country and county are evil and wield unlimited taxpayer funded retribution ability.

  28. Count LF Chodkiewicz Chudzikiewicz says:

    They dont call him Howard the MORON for nothing.
    1. Florida has a REPUBLICAN Governor Cabinet and Legislature
    2. America has a REPUBLICAN Senate & House of Representatives with a REPUBLICAN MAJORITY on the Supreme Court until Justice Scalia’s death.
    To blame Democrats in face of these FACTS is illogical and flies in the face of reality.
    3. Sadly what is behind the falsely called “conservative” or “traditional values” is plain old Klu Klux Klan racism n nativism represented by the old America First John Birch Society Know Nothing Party German American Bund Father Couglin and can be traced back to the witch burners of Salem.
    Howard the Moron statements have no facts no knowledge and no connection to reality. He looks at an ant with a microscope n says he’s found a new monster because he lacks comprehension.