Mayor Keechl: Paying Myself Rent From Campaign Fund Is "Fair"
The following is an email that Broward Mayor Ken Keechl sent Friday to a constituent who had inquired about his Scott Rothstein contributions and was "dismayed" over his campaign spending.
In it, he seems to have provided corruption investigators a motive for why he's paying himself so much money in rent for the campaign headquarters he owns. Remember that Godfather 3 filed a criminal complaint with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the FBI a few weeks ago (reprinted at the end of this post). Here's an original post that first explored Keechl's excessive spending.
"I will admit that some people don't like that I rented from my partner and me," he wrote, "but its legitimate (and I never got the original 180,000 back that I spent last time so on balance I thought it was fair.)"
See? He's saying that since he put $180,000 of his own money in his first race, he deserves to get a little something back in the second. As for his lavish campaign spending on expensive lunches and bottles of wine, Keechl writes, "You don't ask people to raise you 50,000 in one night and then take them to McDonalds."
I don't know what kind of aversion Keechl has to dollar signs. Anyway, here's the email:
From: Ken Keechl email@example.com>
Date: Fri, Feb 19, 2010 at 9:56 AM
Subject: From Ken Keechl
First, and foremost, I want to thank you for giving me the benefit of the doubt. The media can be very one sided and politics is a 'contact sport' as they say.
Yes, I returned the 5,500 from Mr. Rothstein on
about January 10, right after the filing deadline for the 4th quarter report. As you may know, I returned the first 1,000 immediately and it was reported on my campaign filings. The rest was in dispute between the receiver and the federal government. Once my attorney figured out where to send it, we sent it immediately. (It went to the fed. goverment in Miami.)
Regarding my fundraising and spending, I am sorry that you are dismayed. Everything is legitimate. When you supported me in 2006, I spent 180,000 of my own money and raised about 80,000. My opponent spent 600,000. Please make no mistake. I have an opponent; he just hasn't announced yet. So I opened my campaign office (the same one as in 2006) and yes, I rented it from myself. However, my attorney said it was ok and I wanted the same space as last time. To me, it didn't make since to rent from someone else when I have the perfect location with access, and signage. And everyone knows its my campaign office. I will admit that some people don't like that I rented from my partner and me, but its legitimate (and I never got the original 180,000 back that I spent last time so on balance I thought it was fair.) Lastly, regarding the other expenses, my answer is simple: I'm running a campaign. I have been running it for a year. It takes money to raise money. You don't ask people to raise you 50,000 in one night and then take them to McDonalds. But I will admit that it makes an interesting story if you want to sell papers. In the end, I have the only County Commission seat that is split 50/50 Republican and Democrat. That fact makes it a target. I am going to need to raise at least 600,000 to keep it. However, I am raising and spending money to make it very difficult for anyone to get into the race. That my strategy. I think it will work, but only time will tell.
AP, thanks for believing in me. I hope my explanation reassures you. When these types of cruel political and media attacks start, you start to wonder if it is really worth it. I love being your Commissioner so Im willing to take the heat.
Keechl didn't bring up that the roughly $5,000 trip with domestic partner Ted Adcock to San Francisco for the gay leadership conference.
But again, the real question is whether he's paying himself and Adcock more than what it's worth. Even Keechl admitted that if that is proven, then he broke the law. This is from Godfather 3's complaint, which he sent to both the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the FBI:
I noticed that mayor Keechl is paying his "Registered Domestic Partner" Ted Adcock of 2601 NE 37 St. Fort Lauderdale, Fl $3100.00 per month in rent for a property they co-own (612 NE 26 St. Wilton Manors, Fl).
I conducted a search for office space for lease in Wilton Manors advertised in loopnet.com and learned the square foot prices for office space in Wilton Manors range from .83 to 1.79 sf monthly. Keechl is paying himself 2.58 sf monthly. Keechl is also paying an average of 187.84 per month in Water and Trash which is included in the other properties. This cost adds .15 sf per month for a total of $2.73 is paying for office space. Keechl is enriching himself to the tune of 1152 per month from his campaign account.
This is the crux of the case. If the mayor inflated the rent he's paying himself, it opens the door for all his other dubious expenses to fall under the scope of any investigation. And, considering all of Keechl's dubious charges, that only seems fair.
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