Bounced Broward County Commission candidate Jason A. Steele wants back on the ballot for the District 4 race. Steele was removed from the District 4 race after the $3,683.88 check for his filing fees bounced. Mary Cooney, the candidate liaison at the elections office told the Sun-Sentinel that state law requires the removal of Steele. “If your check bounces for any reason,” she said, “you are disqualified.” Steele, a longtime Democrat from Pompano Beach, entered the Commission District 4 race as an NPA (No Party Affiliation) candidate.
Steele was quick to blame a local website for his removal from the race. Steele’s campaign blamed bloggers and bank fraud for the bounced check. A Supervisor Of Elections Official “said a third party, not the candidate himself, called the office to say that the reason the check bounced was that someone used the check image posted on BrowardBeat.com to commit fraud using his bank account. His account was then frozen, allegedly.” Elections officials debunked that claim. “Cooney said the check was deposited on the 20th, reached his bank on the 23rd and bounced. BrowardBeat’s blog post went up the next day, on June 24.”
Today, the Steele campaign has a new excuse. Steele and fellow Masonic lodge brother Debaris James told the Sun-Sentinel that, “Steele was not well versed in campaign rules and wrote the check on his personal account, expecting the funds to automatically transfer from his election account. That didn’t happen, and his check bounced.”
Below is an image of Jason Steele’s signature on a notarized financial disclosure form and the check to the Broward Supervisor of Elections office. The signature on the check appears to be the signature of his campaign treasurer Donna Shrouder. Why would a campaign treasurer sign a check drawn from his personal account?
Even more interesting, Steele complains his motivations for joining the race were attacked. “Steele says he felt attacked after he filed his paperwork, as people accused him of entering the race to steal votes away from one of the other candidates.” In an interview with RED BROWARD, Steele denied association with any other Broward politicians. However, Steele made it clear he did not want voters to know about his ties to Vicente Thrower, a controversial Pompano Beach community activist. Thrower, a thirty-four year old Democrat, faces a September 2014 trial on four felony counts of unlawful compensation.
Steele refused to name any of his close advisers. When asked if Vicente Thrower was a part of his team, Steele said, “That’s something I cannot comment on.” When pressed, Steele said he “heard of the name. Let’s just say there’s a possibility, we may share mutual friends and associates.”
The Sun-Sentinel reports Broward County Commissioners Dale Holness and Chip LaMarca may have a role in the Steele campaign. “Some even wondered whether Commissioner Dale Holness put Steele, an African-American, in the race as a favor to Republican incumbent Chip LaMarca, to draw Democrat votes away from whichever Democrat ends up on the November ballot (Ken Keechl or Ben Lap). That theory had it that Holness was doing a favor for LaMarca by splitting the non-Republican vote so that LaMarca could win. Observers have noted that LaMarca is one of the few allies Holness sometimes has on the dais.”. Steele denied this theory. “I’m not in the race to take votes away from anybody,” he said. “I just want to truly make a difference in my community.”
Despite Steele’s denials, RED BROWARD has documented Holness’ role in several Broward county races. In March, RED BROWARD revealed Holness and LaMarca’s role in the Broward Commission District 2 candidacy of Carmen Jones. Holness endorsed Jones and gave her a campaign contribution. The very conservative Rev. O’ Neal Dozier, another Jones supporter, told RED BROWARD about LaMarca’s role.
Dozier said Broward Republican Executive Committee Secretary Carolyn Kennedy mentioned she spoke with Jones about a bid for the Pompano Beach city commission. Dozier said Jones told him she was approached by Holness and Commissioner Chip LaMarca about running for the county commission seat.
Last week, Holness was tied to the campaign of bogus District 2 write-in candidate Tyron Francois. At an emergency hearing before Judge Sandra Perlman, Broward “SuperLawyer” William Scherer asked Francois about his relationship with Holness’ daughter, Damara Francois. Ms. Holness has used Francois’ Lauderdale Lakes address as her legal residence.
Francois was asked to explain a picture from Damara Holness’ Twitter account. Scherer obtained a picture of Francois and Holness posted to Twitter on March 14, 2014. The picture showed Francois and Holness straing into each other’s eyes in the front seat of an automobile. The picture was captioned, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” The caption included an animated emoticon of heart with an arrow through it.
Scherer asked Francois what the animated heart meant to him. The courtroom observers snickered when Francois said it could mean just about anything.
Commissioner Holness is playing a role in the Broward Commission District 8 race. Holness is supporting Miramar vice mayor Alexandra Davis in her bid to unseat Broward Mayor Barbara Sharief.
RED BROWARD reported that Holness has ties to Broward School Board races as well. District 7 candidate Hubert St.Clair told RED BROWARD that Dale Holness is helping his campaign. “Dale Holness is my best friend,” St. Clair said, “when you find him you will find me.”