The Herald Outs Neil Sterling


The Miami Herald has outed lobbyist Neil Sterling.

The paper reported today that federal agents are zeroing in on suspended School Board member Bev Gallagher’s relationship with Sterling in their continuing investigation.

The Herald says:

“Law enforcement sources familiar with the ongoing investigation said it is zeroing in on Gallagher’s relationship with lobbyist Neil Sterling and others who sought the School Board member’s vote for school construction projects.

Reporter Jay Weaver helped write the story and that lends it more credence. Weaver has covered federal courts on-and-off in Miami for a long time and has lots of sources.

The story is here.

Sterling is a former clothing store owner in downtown Fort Lauderdale from a Broward pioneer family.  When he quit the clothing business in the 1990s, he turned to lobbying, trying to convince many of the same politicians who bought clothes from him to buy from his clients.

Sterling is also a former School Board member who lose a race for Fort Lauderdale mayor to Jim Naugle.

He was the lobbyist for James B. Pirtle Construction, which was scheduled to build renovations to Hollywood Hills High. 

Gallagher got arrested Wednesday, accused of accepting bribes to steer some of the renovation business to undercover agents pretending to be subcontractors.

Sterling and his partner, lobbyist and political consultant Barbara Miller, have long been known as the go-to lobbyists for the School Board.  Almost all the construction work in recent years, including almost every project in Gallagher’s southwest Broward district, has gone to Pirtle.

8 Responses to “The Herald Outs Neil Sterling”

  1. Buh bye says:

    Sterling…miller…stern and book can’t be far behind

  2. Beth The Bounty Hunter says:

    DUHHHH, this is not news. Although Sterline and Miller missed the mark for District 1, Ann Murray won on her own accord and with her own money. If you want to see why Pirtle makes so much money do an inquiry to the school board of what it costs to move a portable school room from one site to another, demolish a portible room or to build a new one. Tax payers would be crazed if they new that amount.

  3. School Board Observer says:

    Say what you want about Neil Sterling but I don’t buy that he crossed the line into illegal conduct. I know he’s a lobbyist, not that anyone loves lobbyists, but being a lobbyist isn’t against the law. Sterling is very smart and he would know where the lines are drawn about what can and can’t be done. He’d raise a ton of campaign donations for Bev Gallagher (or anyone else on the Board) and he’d want Beva and the others to vote for his clients …… but that’s legal. I think Gallagher got caught up in her own greed and personal financial problems. Call it a gut feeling (and you can laugh at me) but I just don’t think there’s anything unlawful involving Sterling.

  4. There Should Be No Portables says:

    The fact that we use portables at all in Broward County is a testiment to management failure at it’s very worst and evidence of how much corporate greed is more important than the well being of children to that school board.

    They have no excuse for not knowing almost exactly how many kids are coming into their schools and planning way in advance to have proper structures in place so they can learn. Now we own portables that are too expensive to move, AND we are building tons of schools that we do not need or in places where they should not be.

    All of that is evidence of corruption.

  5. John says:

    Actually, raising money for a candidate in exchange for their vote is illegal. No question about it.

    If Beverly Gallagher says he raised money on condition that she vote for his client, and a jury believes her, Stirling will go to jail. It’s that simple

  6. Nah says:

    John’s scenario is nearly impossible to prove beyond a reasonable doubt. It’s not even worth spending time on because the issue is not what people promise, it’s what they actually do.

  7. john says:

    Actually, again, promising a vote in exchange for giving a campaign contribution is illegal. I’m starting to hear Broward lobbyists all over town using almost those exact words as previous poster, and arguing that those actions aren’t illegal.

    They aren’t disputing they did it, just that it isn’t illegal. If they really believe that, this is going to get much uglier, much faster, than we ever thought.

    The honest services provision only applies only to politicians, so the lobbyists are right on that count. Trying to buy influence, in any guise, is always illegal, no question.

    As for proof, again, I hope the poster isn’t a lawyer. Perjury would not be provable under these circumstances. But bribery and various influence peddling statutes boil down to Gallagher’s work against XXXX (pick any lobbyist you want).

    And anyone who thinks a Broward County jury, in a federal court no less, is going to side with a lobbyist who admittedly paid money for votes, is out of their mind.

  8. John is Bizzare says:

    John, you heart is in the right place but your logic is out of this world. A promise to do this or that, if oral, which at best is what you are looking at, can never be successfully prosecuted. Period. You are describing a fools errand and FBI are no fools.

    You have nowhere to go. It’s one person’s word against another. You would need other evidence and lobbyists are too cunning to ever get caught in such a thing.

    You are barking up the wrong tree anyway. It doesn’t matter what lobbyists offer. What matters is what elected officials do. That’s the issue here.

    Let’s settle it this way. Wait and see. Let the bottom line dictate who’s right on this. You’ll see.