After years under an investigative cloud, Broward County Commissioner Stacy Ritter has been cleared by the State Attorney’s Office in three separate public corruption probes alleging she used her position for improper gain.
PoliticsShawn and Bruce Chait at sentencingSee all related
•Golf cart: Father-son developer team Bruce and Shawn Chait, who pleaded guilty to corruption crimes after giving gifts and money to public officials across Broward, gave Ritter a golf cart when she was running in 2006 for state Senate. She left that race, won a seat on the Broward County Commission, and voted for the Chaits’ development project. Bruce Chait claimed Ritter asked for a golf cart to use campaigning, and that he paid $1,998 for it, it was nearly new, a “Rolls-Royce of golf carts,” and that he had it delivered to her. She did not report it as a campaign contribution or gift. She told investigators her husband since 2000, lobbyist Russ Klenet, asked Chait for the cart, and that it was an old cart that would otherwise have been thrown away. Investigators concluded they couldn’t prove she acted corruptly or voted on the Chait project because of the golf cart gift.
Broward Dayswill return to Tallahassee this year after a one-year hiatus, but Broward Commissioner Stacy Ritter said it’s a waste of local taxpayer money to support a “Republican lovefest.” Broward Dayswill return to Tallahassee this year after a one-year hiatus, but Broward Commissioner Stacy Ritter said it’s a waste of local taxpayer money to support a “Republican lovefest.” ( Brittany Wallman ) –>Brittany Wallman
•County insurance contract: Ritter voted to give the county health insurance business to Vista Health Plan Inc. in 2007. Her husband, lobbyist Klenet, was employed by the company’s lobbying firm, and was involved in strategy for obtaining the contract, the state attorney found. The state attorney’s office had already investigated the relationship, but this week concluded for the second time that Ritter did not benefit improperly from the contract going to Vista. Even though Klenet woke Ritter in their Copenhagen hotel room to make sure she voted on the contract by telephone, he wasn’t paid specifically for his work on the Vista deal, investigators said. Ritter “essentially admitted” to investigators that “there was an appearance of impropriety,” but said her husband did not influence her vote, the closeout memo says.
•Campaign spending: Ritter’s campaign contribution and spending reports from her 2008 re-election campaign were “replete with inaccuracies and errors,” the state attorney’s memo says. Among other things, the office looked at her purchase of iPhones and concert tickets, and spending by her and her husband on meals. But the state attorney’s office couldn’t show that the spending was not campaign-related. “While some may question the necessity, extravagance, or tastefulness of a candidate’s campaign expenditure, it is not within this office’s authority to dictate to a candidate how to legitimately spend the candidate’s campaign money,” the memo concludes. The Florida Elections Commission reviewed the same allegations and concluded there was probable cause to believe she violated state campaign laws. Ritter paid an $8,000 fine to settle the case.
Brittany Wallman A developer duo’s quest to see a northwest Broward golf course transformed into homes led them from politician to politician, where they were accused of greasing the deal with gifts and cash. A developer duo’s quest to see a northwest Broward golf course transformed into homes led them from politician to politician, where they were accused of greasing the deal with gifts and cash. ( Brittany Wallman ) –>
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