The people behind Broward County Commissioner Chip LaMarca’s social media mess are the same press flacks working for Charter Schools USA (CSUSA). An earlier REDBROWARD report revealed members of LaMarca’s social media team were appearing in paid advertisements for the campaign. REDBROWARD reached one of the individuals, Jonathan Brownfield of Lift Social Media in Fort Lauderdale. Mr. Brownfield refused to answer questions regarding his work for LaMarca. “I am a supporter,” Brownfield said before hanging up the phone. Lift Social Media claims it has worked for clients such as the Florida Panthers and Charter Schools USA. Both organizations have made contributions to the LaMarca campaign.
Broward Supervisor of Elections campaign records did not show any payments by LaMarca to Brownfield of Lift Social Media. However, LaMarca did make a large payment to an associate of Brownfield. On September 30, 2014 LaMarca paid $12,000 to Benjamin Porritt LLC of Fort Lauderdale. The payment was made for “public strategy fee.” State of Florida corporation records show Benjamin Porritt LLC is the entity behind the fictitious company known as “Outside Eyes.”
On the Linkedin resume website, Ben Porritt is listed as a partner at Outside Eyes. On its website, Outside Eyes claims to “offer a full range of crisis communications services. We are trusted advisors for companies, athletes, and celebrities to protect their most important asset.” The website lists its address at 330 SW 2nd Avenue Suite 103 in Fort Lauderdale. That is the same address listed on the Lift Social Media website.
According to his Linkedin page, Jonathan Brownfield is the social media partner at Outside Eyes.
Brownfield used to include his Outside Eyes affiliation on his other social media accounts. However it appears references to the company are disappearing. REDBROWARD obtained cached versions of Brownfield’s Twitter account listing Outside Eyes. The information was still listed on his Foursquare account.
Last June, Porritt moderated a Leadership Broward “Eye Opener Breakfast” dealing with charter schools. One of the panelists was a Charter Schools USA official. The Leadership Broward “Eye Opener Breakfast” series is sponsored by the Tripp Scott law firm. Ed Pozzuoli, a partner at Tripp Scott, has deep ties to Charter Schools USA. Pozzuoli is one of LaMarca’s strongest backers.
Porritt has issued several press releases for Charter Schools USA. Brownfield’s Twitter account includes numerous photgraphs taken at CSUSA events and conferences.
So why the secrecy? Brownfield and Porritt can work for CSUSA and LaMarca. They can keep attending events, too. Were they ashamed they used themselves in advertisements, posing as average citizens?
Brownfield and an associate attended the recent district 4 debate in Oakland Park. REDBROWARD reported the first question was planted with a LaMarca shill. This planted audience member just happened to be Steven Stoll, LaMarca’s personal foreclosure attorney. LaMarca packed the audience with immediate family. His Facebook page is littered with only the comments of immediate family and campaign operatives. An attempt to garner “retweets” on Twitter yielded just one.
Is Outside Eyes here to handle LaMarca’s true “crisis?” He has very little grassroots support among real Broward voters.