Wild art: Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler with a friend (is that Judy Stern behind that mask?). And no, Seiler has nothing to do with the following blog post.
So what do you do when your brother is elected to the City Commission?
Why, you go to political events -- like a meeting of the Broward County League of Cities -- and then start hitting up the lobbyists and
contractors you meet, making sure to name-drop your brother's elected position.
It's called influence peddling, and sometimes it's all in the family.
Inside, read an email from one elected official's brother to a host of
When Frank Paul Cangemi's brother, John Cangemi, was elected vice mayor of North Lauderdale, he set out to capitalize on the connection.
So, at his brother's invitation, he attended political events with the vice mayor, gathering connections with lobbyists and government contractors looking for city business.
Then he solicited them to hire him as a cigar roller at their hoity-toity events. Below is an email brother Cangemi sent to a host of movers and shakers in Broward's political world, including Waste Management's Tony Spadaccia; lobbyists Candice Ericks, David Sigerson, and Vinnie Grande; engineering firms Kimley-Horn and Chen and Associates; FPL executives; even Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler attorney Howard Kusnick (it was sent out just weeks before Scott Rothstein's implosion). Pembroke Pines Mayor Frank Ortis -- a lobbyist himself who is very cozy with influence peddlers and government contractors -- was also on the list.
Here's the email:
From: Frank Paul Cangemi
Date: August 21, 2009 9:19:23 AM EDT
To: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Cc: "'Frank Paul Cangemi'"
Subject: Hello ALL/Frank Paul here/We Met Last Night at the Marriott Heron Bay Coral Springs, FL
Morning ALL ...
I enjoyed meeting and conversing with all of you last night at the Marriott in Heron Bay... Coral Springs, Florida for the Broward League of Cities Dinner/Meeting...
Please permit me to re-introduce myself... My name is Frank Paul Cangemi...
Vice Mayor North Lauderdale John Cangemi is my dear brother and invited me to your dinner event...
I had an "Excellent" time meeting and mingling with "ALL" ... Thank You for your service...
How could I help you with your various businesses?... Please let me know... Tks...
As I shared with you... I created my "Cigar Roller Event Company"/"Unique Entertainment" for ALL occasions here in South East Florida in 1996...
It will be my pleasure to be of service to "You"... "Your Family"... "Your Colleagues"... and "Your clients" as per your needs for "Your Events"...
If you wish... I'll email you my entire "Customized Cigar Roller Events Informational Package"... Touch base... Let me know... Tks...
Certainly if you have any questions or any concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Enjoy your day... "Keep It Fun" !!!
"Life is Good"
When I asked Vice Mayor Cangemi about it today, he initially claimed he couldn't remember.
"I'm not aware of that," he said. "I can't remember that. You said it was 2009? Well, that's two or three years ago."
When I told him it was only a year and a half ago, he said, 'Well, you're blindsiding me right now because I know my brother better than that. I'm really not aware of it."
His brother, Frank Paul, remembered sending the email and said he couldn't remember if he told his brother or not.
"I've been doing my cigar-roller events for 15 years, and I'm the vice president of the Southeast region of the National Association of Wedding Professionals, so it's just my nature to look and touch bases with people I meet," he said. "I'm never meaning to cause any harm, just to mix and mingle. I overstepped my boundaries? Aye yay yay, I didn't mean to."
He said he didn't believe that he'd actually gotten any business from the solicitation, though he said he would check to make sure.
Interestingly, Vice Mayor Cangemi also recently -- out of the blue -- announced at a city meeting that he wanted the city to piggyback on Miramar's new garbage contract with the firm Waste Pro, which would have negated the need for the city to get competitive bids.
Cangemi is usually a proponent for competitive bids. I asked him who told him to try to go with Waste Pro.
"I can't talk about that; there's a cone of silence," he said.
I informed Cangemi that the cone of silence was for lobbyists, not the media, and that he had permission to speak to me about it. So I repeated: Who told you to go with Waste Pro?
"Nobody," he answered.
He came up with it himself?
"It was out on the street, it was in the media, it was on the website," he said. "I just asked our city manager to look into it."