When convicted political operative Alan Mendelsohn was recently debriefed regarding his knowledge of corruption in Florida, it wasn't just federal officials at the table, according to multiple sources.
State prosecutors working under Michael Satz were also there taking notes. The state and feds, informed sources say, are working together on the case, each taking up where the other leaves off.
You read that right: Federal and state officials -- who have historically had an icy relationship and have engaged in decades-long turf wars -- are now in cahoots together, at least when it comes to Mendelsohn.
The détente may have real practical value in the Mendelsohn case. For instance, it is widely believed that lobbyist Russell Klenet -- whom Mendelsohn pinpointed in court as having taught him how to hide money from clients -- has received at least partial immunity from the federal government in the wide-ranging fraud case involving Ponzi schemer Joel Steinger and his former firm, Mutual Benefits.
But that doesn't preclude the state from investigating those and all other matters.
In the Mendelsohn indictment the feds listed numerous sources of political money that was diverted in all kinds of interesting -- and illegal -- ways. Most of the money men have one only thing in common: a connection to
Klenet, whose wife of course is Broward County Commissioner Stacy Ritter.
One of the political contributors was Mark Ginsburg, Klenet's friend and client. Another was credit counselor Howard Dvorkin, who said Klenet directed him to pay his lobbying fees to Pine Crest School for tuition for Mendelsohn's children. Then there's Steinger himself, who paid Klenet $20,000 a month as his lobbyist and political strategist.
It's clear that Klenet was at the center of the Mendelsohn money wheel. I was able to get David Schulson, one of the state prosecutors leading the corruption investigation, on the phone today. He refused to comment on the Mendelsohn investigation but he was very clear on one point.
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"Klenet and Ritter are still open investigations," said Schulson.
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