To the Victor Go the Spoiled Children

County Commissioner Scott Cowan paid his daughters $10,000 in campaign funds for not working on his campaign. Hey -- it's legal.

Before getting her share of the final $15,000, Courtney was paid roughly $5600 from the campaign in contract work and reimbursed expenses, which begs the question: How did she work for her father's campaign when she lived nearly 300 miles away?

Cowan says Courtney did it with the help of modern technology; a fax, a computer, and a modem. He says he faxed Courtney campaign checks and receipts, which she entered into her computer and sent back to his home, which doubled as his campaign office, via modem.

While it seems like a convoluted and inefficient method to complete such a menial task, Cowan says the procedure was "pretty easy." Apparently it was also costly, as Courtney was paid at least $3000 in reimbursed expenses.

As to how much time she actually put into the campaign, Cowan says he doesn't know "how quickly she entered the stuff, but I would venture to say she worked 20 hours a month." If this rather vague estimation is taken as fact, then she worked about 240 hours. She made about $13,100, which comes out to an hourly rate of almost $55 an hour for punching numbers into a computer.

He says Courtney, who was featured in Teen magazine in 1993 as an aspiring model, was ready to put in 20 hours a week once the campaign got going in July. When there wasn't one, she went to California instead, where, Cowan puts it with a laugh, she wants to "make her fortune." She couldn't be reached for comment.

While Courtney entered figures, Amanda, who lives in Plantation with her mother (Cowan's former wife), passed out fliers at Cowan's campaign stops.

"That was her job," Cowan says. "When I would go one direction, she would go another and hand out literature."

Cowan says he made at least 40 campaign stops before the July deadline. While Amanda made a total of about $11,000, she made $3500 for her campaign-stop work.

When asked if she felt she'd earned all the money she made in her father's campaign, Amanda refused to comment.

"Any questions you have, you can talk to my father," she said.
It wasn't the first time Amanda made a bundle off one of her father's campaigns. Back in 1990, when Cowan actually had a challenger, she was paid $7565 according to elections-office records. She was 20 years old at the time. During Cowan's 1986 race, when Amanda was 16, she pocketed $300. Courtney, who was 13, was paid $225 from that campaign.

Cowan points out that none of the money circulating through his campaigns is public money, and he says there's only one group of people he has to answer to when it comes to spending it: his contributors.

To date, none of his contributors has complained about not getting a refund on his or her contribution. Cowan says he didn't return the unspent money to them because it is a massive task, and there would be difficulties in closing out the campaign account. Instead he let some of his bigger contributors -- like lobbyist Ron Book and ambulance-company owner Malcolm Cohen -- pick a charity for the campaign to give money to.

Cowan doesn't do much grassroots fundraising. The vast majority of his political money comes from developers, builders, shipping companies, business people, and lawyers -- people who probably couldn't care less what he does with the money so long as he wins.

"If a contributor objects to it, I would certainly have to assess again whether or not it was the right thing to do," he says of the payoff to Courtney and Amanda. "But if [a potential complainer is] not a contributor, they have no say over what I do with the money. There is no public financing involved in a county commission campaign."

The Forman family -- which owns an investment empire and has sold tracts of land to the county in the past -- is one of Cowan's top political supporters. Family members and their companies gave a total of at least $5000 to Cowan's recent campaign. The family's patriarch, Hamilton C. Forman, didn't return phone calls left at his office from New Times.

Of the handful of individuals who gave $100 or less, only Fort Lauderdale resident and Port Everglades harbor pilot Roland Parent could be reached -- and he didn't want to talk about it.

"I'm not saying it doesn't bother me," said Parent. "But I'm not knowledgeable about it, and I don't want to say anything. I'm not a pal of Scott's. I don't really know the man.

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