No White Hats At the County Commission



Susanne Gunzburger likes to portray herself as a white hat on a county commission of black hats.

Don’t believe it.

When it comes to lobbyists and campaign contributions, there are no white hats on the Broward County Commission.

Check out this invitation:


and Committee in formation







Friday, February 13, 2009
12:00 noon to 1:30 pm

At the offices of Berger Singerman
Suite 1000
350 East Las Olas Boulevard
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301

Please RSVP to Mitchell Berger at (954) 627-9900, or to Dawn Meyers at (954) 627-9915

Checks may be personal, corporate or PAC.  Suggested contribution may not exceed $500.  Checks should be made payable to “Sue Gunzburger Campaign and sent to Suite 1000, 350 East Las Olas Boulevard, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301.        

Who is Mitchell Berger?  His law firm’s lobbying clients — Chuck Lichtman and  Dawn Meyers work for the firm — include some major businesses.   

There is a huge roofing contractor, the managers of the convention center, a waste disposal facility, a firm which had plans to build a prison in west Broward and a retail company operating at the airport.

Why does Berger and his lawyers care enough about Gunzburger to throw money at her campaign?

Maybe because Gunzburger voted over the years:

  •  To give Berger a six-figure contract to represent the county in an airport project.
  •  To allow a Berger client to dock a gambling boat at Port Everglades.
  •  To permit a prison in west Broward for a Berger client. The prison was never built, but not because of Gunzburger’s opposition. 
  • For a settlement reducing the fire service fees for one of Broward’s biggest developers, a Berger client.
  • For a housing project in Bonaventure that 2,000 nearby residents petitioned against.  Berger was pushing the development.

I guess Berger & company believe they owe Gunzburger something.

Let me be clear.  Gunzburger is not unusual.  The ENTIRE county commission is hooked on campaign contributions from lobbyists and other special interests.

The current system created commissioners who ignored the petition from 2,000 voters and allowed a hated project to be built.

Gunzburger wasn’t alone in voting against the wishes of 2,000 petitioners in favor of Berger’s client. Four of her fellow commissioners joined her.  

17 Responses to “No White Hats At the County Commission”

  1. admin says:


    I mistakenly erased Beth The Bounty Hunter’s recent comment. It is:
    “She’s been in a political office for way too long, it’s time for her to go.”
    Thanks Beth for participating.

  2. Sick Of It says:

    Lobbyists must be made to reveal their fees and expenses, like in Tallahassee.

  3. Real Life says:

    “She’s been in a political office for way too long, it’s time for her to go.”

    Gunzburger’s opponent Steve Geller also has 20+ years in elective office. Neither one is “a fresh new face” in politics.

    Let me be clear. Gunzburger is not unusual. The ENTIRE county commission is hooked on campaign contributions from lobbyists and other special interests.

    Gunzburger and the rest take lobbyist contributions … but Geller actually IS A LOBBYIST for the racetracks, gambling interests, and developers. Do you really want to put a developer/special interest lobbyist on the Commission? Like it or not, that’s the choice voters will face in the District 6 race.

  4. Its The Benches, Buddy says:

    Buddy. You should remember that the Gunzburgers made afortune selling plastic park benches to the county while she was a county commissioner. Why not write about that?

  5. Fact Checker says:

    Real Life,

    I have searched the legislative lobbyist directory in Tallahassee and around the state for Steve Geller and if he represented any race track/casino/fronton and I can’t seem to find his name anywhere.

    Can you please tell me where he is a registered lobbyist for gambling interests?

    I will say that Geller represents developers (as an attorney and not a lobbyist), but do you think it’s wise to attack him on that when this very same article shows that Gunzburger has helped her friends’ clients get developmental privileges such as Bonaventure? Interesting that Berger is now throwing her a fundraiser.

    I wonder how many other land use/developmental projects she has voted for in the past.

  6. Tony T says:

    Real Life seems to believe the only two politicians in south Broward are Sue Gunzburber and Steve Geller. We could use a real choice at the next election. How about Joy Cooper.

  7. Real Life says:

    Mitchell Berger = attorney/lobbyist
    George Platt = attorney/lobbyist
    Dennis Mele = attorney/lobbyist
    Dawn Meyers = attorney/lobbyist
    Bernie Friedman = attorney/lobbyist
    etc etc etc

    Same is true for Steve Geller. It’s just a semantics game to claim Geller is “an attorney and not a lobbyist.” A government affairs-land use attorney IS A LOBBYIST ….. so Geller is a lobbyist …… just like Berger, Platt, Mele and all the rest of them.

    I have searched the legislative lobbyist directory in Tallahassee and around the state for Steve Geller and if he represented any race track/casino/fronton and I can’t seem to find his name anywhere.

    I never said in Tallahasse. Geller is a registered lobbyist before the city commissions in Hollywood, Hallandale Beach, etc. etc., and he represents the developers, racetracks and “racinos”.

  8. Paul Harvey says:

    Buddy: Why didn’t you print the rest of the story? You knew this invitation went out with a cover note — not from Mitchell Berger — but from Chuck Lichtman, which explained the real reason the firm was throwing this event for Sue:

    Dear Fellow Democratic Attorney:

    Since the 2000 recount, the most dependable elected official in Broward County who has consistently fought for voter protection is Broward County Commissioner Suzanne Gunzberger.

    Most of you know I sat across from Suzanne counting the ballots one by one in front of the Broward canvassing board in the 2000 recount, and when it was over, I stated then, and continue to believe today, that Suzanne’s efforts to stop a stolen election during that 36 days were nothing less than heroic. Since then, every time an election matter has been before the Broward County Commission, Suzanne has been at the forefront of assuring that every Broward vote would get counted, finding whatever money was necessary to protect an election, or to make calls to get things moving in the right direction.

    Accordingly, I ask for your help in supporting Suzanne’s re-election to the Commission by attending a luncheon at my office on February 13, 2009 at 12:00 pm. We are only requesting $50 to $100 contributions and would like to have a show of numbers from the Broward attorneys who are members of the Florida Democratic Lawyers Council. Suzanne has been there for us. We should be there for her. If you could please RSVP back to me by return e-mail if you can come, that would be most appreciated.

    Thanks – Chuck

    Chuck Lichtman, for those who don’t know, is the state chair of the Florida Democratic Lawyers Council and was the lead statewide lawyer for the 2004 John Kerry and 2008 Barack Obama “election protection” Democratic lawyers fielded at every key precinct around the state. The firm is doing this because Sue is such a staunch Democratic loyalist. It wasn’t as “sexy” of a story to include these details, but this is the party Buddy left out.

    FROM BUDDY: Charles Lichtman might have had a cover letter on some of the invitations sent to “Dear Democratic Attorney.” But the invitation also was e-mailed to lobbyists in Broward County without regard to their party affliliation and without the above letter.
    Regardless of his letter, Mr. Lichtman may have more than one reason to support Sue Gunzburger and the other commissioners. He is a registered lobbyist in the county.

  9. Paul Harvey says:

    And, Buddy, when are you going to start reporting on Geller’s close ties to that $1 billion Mutual Benefits ponzi scheme busted by the feds? Both the Sun-Sentinel and New Times have covered Geller’s close links to the scam and the legislative favors he did to help protect those crooks from state regulators ….. but not a word from you. At least, not yet. Hmmmm.

  10. Gunz is a Burger says:

    Steve Geller was successful in Tallahassee. I won’t make the case for him. I don’t even know him. My impression of him is good.
    I do know that Gunzburger hasn’t done one thing at the county commission in however many years she has been there. It seems like forever. Is Broward a better place to live since she has been on the county commission? There is nothing but more traffic, more crime, less services, more taxes. I would try anybody but her, who has had her chance and failed.

  11. Onehorsetown says:

    People actually wonder why there is so much corruption in county government?
    The letter above from Lichtman says it all. The Democrat machine has the county commision in their back pocket (ie., “the most dependable elected official in Broward County”).
    Does you average citizen refer to an elected official as “dependable”?
    Yikes! I want to barf.
    As I have said many many times, the entire county is run by one locally corrupt political party exclusively.
    Are there ever contrasting political views in Broward?
    No way.
    Every County Commissioner and every School Board member is a liberal Democrat. Every single one.
    Throw in the Public Defender, State Attorney, Property Appraiser, Elections Supervisor and Clerk of Courts. They are all Democrats.
    The foxes are surely watching the hen house….

  12. Paul Harvey is a Gunzberger Hack says:

    Paul Harvey or should I say Ron!

    You keep attacking Steve Geller, but the best you can do is come up with rumors and you constantly fail to back them up. What the Sentinel and New Times reported is the Geller introduced to them to Russ Klenet. I once introduced a female friend to a male friend who ended up cheating on her, does that make me a cheater? By your fauly logic it will.

    I deal with facts. The fact is Sue Gunzburger has steered plenty of yes votes and lucrative contracts to Mitch Berger and co. Not only that all I have to say is “bus benches”! Just say good bye to the Gunzberger family iin Broward politics!

  13. Fact Checker says:

    Real Life,

    You still haven’t given me any hard facts that Geller represented a casino anywhere. Please tell me where and when he represented a casino and what issue.

  14. Real Life says:

    Gulfstream and Hollywood Dog Track both have casino facilities (“race-inos”) and Geller lobbies for both. I’m sure there may be more, maybe in Dade, but these are the two I remember from the newspapers.

  15. Steve Geller says:

    Real Life;

    I’ve never lobbied for either Gulfstream or Hollywood. It would have been legal to, but I’ve always chosen not to represent any gambling interests in any way so as not to compromise my leadership on this issue in Tallahassee.

    I would not have bothered responding if that’s all I was going to say.

    Real Life, Fact Checker, and the rest of you:

    This is ridiculous! The election is over 1 1/2 years away. I hope that we can have an election based on Sue’s vision for Broward and my vision for Broward. Let’s try and appeal to people’s better nature, and not convince them to vote for the lesser of two evils.

    I hope that we can elevate the level of discourse here, although I recognize the problems of anonymous blogs.

  16. What White Hat says:


    You know this better than anyone. If you want to measure the color of an elected official’s hat by whether they allow lobbyists to help them raise campaign cash, then they all wear black hats. But that doesn’t make the villians. It makes them captives in a campaign finance system that isn’t public. Do you want lobbyist money to go away? Easy. Let’s do public financing for campaigns and its over. If not, let’s use other measuring sticks to determine the color of somebody’s hat because I know lots of officials that use lobbyists to raise funds and they are not crooks. No, not all of them are crooks at all and most don’t even come close.

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