Is Stephanie Kraft Working Off Time? | New Times Broward-Palm Beach

Bob Norman's Pulp

Is Stephanie Kraft Working Off Time?

It's a question that keeps popping up: Is Stephanie Kraft cooperating with law enforcement?

I've never seen anyone so disgraced try to retain such a high profile. She's running around town, claims she's going to beat the nails-hard case against her, and is trying to maintain a presence in schools.

What kind of behavior is this? It makes no sense. People charged with obvious crimes that can put them in prison for many years generally hunker down and work on their defense. They don't hawk drama-club tickets at political debates and start writing blogs.

That's why I'm wondering if she's gathering intel for either the State Attorney's Office, the statewide grand jury, or even the feds, who also investigated her case involving dirty developers Bruce and Shawn Chait.

I keep hearing that lobbyists Neil Sterling and Barbara Miller have been given immunity in the statewide grand jury case. That's not confirmed, but I have some reason to believe it may be true. Even if it isn't, Kraft almost surely will face more charges involving her husband Mitch Kraft's payments from Sterling while Kraft was pushing his clients at the board. Those clients included a big school builder and Vista Health, a company to which she steered a $1.7 billion insurance contract. That makes the Chait case, which is outrageous on its face, look almost insignificant.

The woman is caught, and authorities have some very persuasive leverage on their side of the ledger. Don't believe any garbage talk that the case against the Krafts in the Chait case isn't strong. It's open and shut. The state has got the cash, they got the deed, and they have the Chaits and other key witnesses spilling the story. The idea that she didn't know her husband had worked out a cash deal with the Chaits is idiotic on its face and won't stand a chance with a jury. Official misconduct is a lock, unlawful compensation would seem to be a lock, and bribery, well, we'll see on that one. I broke the Wasserstrom case too, and trust me when I say this one is much stronger.

Inside, see how lobbyist Russ Klenet, embattled husband of Broward Queen Stacy Ritter, may be about to lose another prime gig and how we may not have Sunrise Commissioner Roger Wishner to kick around anymore.

Lobbyist Russell Klenet -- who is in the middle of a campaign scandal with his wife -- is making a lot of money on the taxpayers' dime, but he may be losing more than just his influential Broward League of Cities gig.

The City of Sunrise has also put his lobbying contract out to bid. Also on the block is the city's other lobbyist, Ron Book. Both Klenet and Book are making about $60,000 each. The city is narrowing down to one lobbyist and is accepting bids.

Klenet only narrowly retained the contract last time, with outgoing Commissioner Roger Wishner casting the deciding vote in his favor. With Wishner on the way out the door, it may be a long shot Klenet gets the job. Commissioner Sheila Alu suggested at a recent meeting that they remove Klenet on the spot. "I just don't think he's effective," she said. "I think he's too politically injured to be effective."

Speaking of Wishner, he says that when he leaves office in March, he may be done with politics for good (though of course he won't rule it out). Hey, he really went south the last couple of years, but let's not forget that for a while many years ago, he was one of the better reps in Sunrise.

"I don't know if I'm going to be in public service again," Wishner told me recently. "I'm going to go back to a private life. I've had an opportunity to serve the public in several different ways. I've seen our city turn from a small little sleepy town into one of the most progressive cities in Broward County, if not Florida. It was like watching a child grow up, and I think probably it's time for me to go back to a private life."

That's a whole lot different from another former mayor, Ken Keechl, who threatens to try to make a return to office. Keechl had to watch as one of his signature ordinances -- the doggy death penalty law -- is under attack. Leading the charge at the commission meeting was John Rodstrom, who cast a vote for the law when Keechl pushed it.

More coming.