Best Local Girl Gone Bad - 2005
Not long after Palm Beach County landed the honor of becoming the new home of the Scripps Research Institute, Jeb Bush supporter Elizabeth Fago became chairwoman of the board that would oversee state funding to the project. Fago even gave a million bucks to Scripps as a show of support. But soon, Fago's two decades of problems were revealed; there was $100,000 owed to the IRS and a failed marriage to a major drug dealer. Turns out two states were also investigating her business, Home Quality Management, a chain of nursing homes headquartered in Palm Beach Gardens, for improprieties. Her company was even charged in 2004 with abuse, neglect, and Medicaid fraud by New Mexico's attorney general. The negative news forced Fago to make a hasty exit from the Scripps board's audit committee, which she chaired. But Fago, who has given more than $120,000 to Republican causes, was apparently not so embarrassed that she needed to walk away altogether. Still the top dog, the woman who has faced more than 35 lawsuits for unpaid bills in recent years helps oversee the expenditure of $310 million in state money.