Internal documents show Children’s Services Council of Broward County(CSC) employees being encouraged to work for the political committee behind a controversial ballot question. This November, Broward voters will be asked to reauthorize the Children’s Services Council. CSC gets to dole out $54,620,588.58 worth of Broward taxpayer dollars to groups it deems worthy. If approved by voters, the CSC could exist indefinitely. Recent RED BROWARD investigations have questioned CSC payments made to charities connected local politicians such as School Board Member Rosalind Osgood and Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness.
Last May, RED BROWARD revealed Children’s Services Council CEO Cindy Arenberg Seltzer urged friends to “like” the Facebook page of “Citizens For Broward’s Children.” The newly created political committee claims it is interested in Broward County ballot issues regarding “children’s services in Broward County.”
Promotion material obtained by RED BROWARD, showed the committee is headed by Fred Lippman, a longtime Democrat member of the Florida legislature. Citizens for Broward’s Children, Inc. says it is a “countywide group of community, business, civic and political organizations and leaders who are working together to support the reauthorization of the Children’s Services Council of Broward County. Citizens for Broward’s Children was created by a group of concerned Broward County residents who want to ensure the Children’s Services Council is reauthorized by voters in the 2014 Election. Membership in Citizens for Broward’s Children is free and open to anyone who shares our goal of supporting the reauthorization of the Broward County Children’s Services Council.”
Kim Lee Bove, treasurer of Citizens For Broward’s Children, works for Cornerstone Solutions of West Palm Beach. According to their website, Cornerstone Solutions helps “clients win political or issue campaigns, or pass/defeat ballot initiatives or legislation. We do it with award-winning strategic and integrated communications plans.”
In November 2013, the founder of Cornerstone Solutions, Rick Asnani, attending a meeting of the Children’s Services Council. The meeting minutes state, “Mr. Rick Asnani, Principal at Cornerstone Solutions, who was hired by the Community Foundation of Broward to look at the referendum process and landscape for CSC’s success, summarized the findings and thought process behind their recommendation of the 2014 general election for the CSC retention question.”
RED BROWARD obtained a copy of the agenda for February 26, 2014 CSC staff meeting. The second item shows Cindy Arenberg Seltzer welcoming Rick Asnani. Under “All-Staff Action Items,” the agenda reads, “Cindy to let staff know contact information if any providers or people want to assist with or donate to the campaign.” RED BROWARD was told these staff meetings are not recorded.
RED BROWARD obtained a March 17, 2014 email sent to all CSC staff members about volunteering for Citizens For Broward’s Children. The email from executive assistant Monique Finlay reads:
Hello CSC Staff: Please remember that the Membership & Volunteer Forms for Citizens for Broward’s Children are on my desk in a folder in file stand. I plan to submit the first set of forms this Thursday March 20 when Mr. Asnani is here for Council Meeting. I have been informed that you really can volunteer anytime if they so choose More details to come!! Thanks.
The six figure salary of CEO Cindy Arenberg Seltzer and the salaries of all CSC employees are paid with Broward taxpayer dollars. Now, they are being asked to “volunteer” for a political committee pushing a ballot measure that provides funding for their salaries. If Broward voters reject the reauthorization, all CSC staff may be out of work.
Also, the email indicates, “you really can volunteer anytime.” Does this mean CSC staff can volunteer during CSC working hours?
This political committee is not shy about paying staffers. Last month, Buddy Nevins of BrowardBeat.com reported Citizens For Broward’s Children was paying Broward Democrat officials.
“Cynthia Busch, the first vice chair of the party, was paid $3,000 last month as the executive director of the political committee formed to save the Council,” Nevins wrote, “By hiring Busch, the political committee is attempting to build influence among key Democrats. The group also has supposedly hired a former aide to County Commissioner Chip LaMarca to woo Republicans, according to one source.”