Campaign Consultants a Luxury Only Incumbents Can Afford; Can They Score a Win for Ken Keechl? | The Daily Pulp | South Florida | Broward Palm Beach New Times | The Leading Independent News Source in Broward-Palm Beach, Florida

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Campaign Consultants a Luxury Only Incumbents Can Afford; Can They Score a Win for Ken Keechl?

At a time when cynicism toward Broward politics is at an all-time high, incumbents on the Broward County Commission have turned to high-priced political consultants to ensure they don't get toppled by a challenger.

Today's news of Commissioner Ilene Lieberman allegedly directing developers to hire a consultant of her choosing, well... that hasn't helped the overall mood.

Broward Mayor Ken Keechl has spent $275,000 on his reelection campaign. With that much at his disposal, Keechl could afford the luxury of campaign consultants who can make sure Keechl attends the right meetings and tailors his message to his audience. Let's take a closer look at who provided these invaluable services after the jump.

Of course, Keechl had been hoping he'd cruise through this campaign season unchallenged. But not long after Bob Norman reported that Keechl was using his campaign funds to pay above-market-value rent for a campaign office owned by his partner, Ted Adcock, a few challengers got interested.

Not that Keechl had taken anything for granted. He had long since retained a consulting firm, Backus Ketcham Group, based in Victoria Park. For the past year and a half, Keechl's campaign has paid BKG $2,000 per month.

Keechl's Democratic challenger, Beverly Kennedy, has had difficulty raising funds and has had to spend their money on necessities like campaign signs and mailers. Same for Chris Chiari, who is running without party affiliation. [Correction: A previous version of this post mistakenly identified Chiari as a Democrat candidate. We regret the error.]

It's hard to imagine that either Chiari or Kennedy had much chance of landing an endorsement from a newsletter run by publisher Steve Kelley. As the Juice reported earlier this month, Keechl scored a front-page endorsement from Kelley's Harbor News. And now that all the campaign funds are accounted for, we know that Keechl spent $6,000 on ads in Kelley's newsletters.

That's quite a sum, considering that Kelley's quarterly newsletter charges just $250 for a full-page ad. Keechl spent enough for 24 full-page ads. A cynical observer might suggest it cost extra for Keechl to get a front-page endorsement, but that would be downright unethical!

Broward Democratic operative Ron Mills did lucrative business with Keechl, who paid Mills $1,500, presumably for Mills' FootPrint Strategies, a robo-call firm.

Keechl's campaign also made three separate payments, totaling $900, to an operative from Deerfield Beach named Terry Scott. If that name sounds familiar, maybe it's because Scott has been deeply involved in that city's scandalous Mango Festival. For more on that, read this post from last fall. It's not clear what services Scott performed for Keechl, but it's worth finding out.

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Thomas Francis

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