Ethics Chairman Was Paid No-Bid $75,000 by School Board

Before he got his million-dollar contract with the School Board, Florida Ethics Chairman Roy Rogers was paid $74,998 in taxpayers' money in no-bid work orders to provide "landscaping at various schools," Broward County School Board records show.

Rogers, who was appointed chairman of the ethics commission by Gov. Charlie Crist, received one purchase order of $25,000 and two more of $24,999 dating from November 2004 to June 2006.

It's a murky, below-the-board deal that was handled personally by then-Asst. Superintendent Michael Garretson, the late construction chief who came under FBI scrutiny before resigning last year.

Garretson personally signed off on each of Rogers' purchase orders paid to his firm, Roy Rogers & Associates; there was never a contract signed. School Board rules dictate that any purchase over $15,000 must be bid out in a competitive process. Typed in each box on Rogers' purchase orders where the bid number was supposed to be was "bid waiver."

It doesn't appear that any of the work was formally approved by the School Board.

Let's see, a contract skirting bid requirements done outside the public eye. How ethical is that?

Rogers has fallen on the wrong side of ethics more than once. A few months ago, he wrote a letter to a federal judge asking for leniency for School Board member Beverly Gallagher when she was sentenced on bribery and other charges. He also recently wrote a tortured ethics opinion clearing Broward County Commission candidate Angelo Castillo -- who runs a charity that gets a large chunk of its funding from the county -- of any conflict of interest should he win the office.

Rogers was an unlikely ethics advocate from word go. He's a developer who worked for Arvida and helped to build Weston. After retiring, he became a business consultant who representing the IBI Group, which he also helped get School Board contracts.

His first run as a supposed county ethics champion came in 2000, when he was made "founding chairman" of the "Fair Campaign Practices Committee of Broward County." The group was supposed to be a campaign watchdog but has been accused many times of serving as a hatchet group for favored candidates. Facing intense criticism in 2003, the group nearly disbanded but instead formulated written rules for the first time, according to the Miami Herald.

The "committee" was started by Steve Geller, the former state senator and developers' lobbyist who is now using murky state electioneering committees to avoid campaign finance limits (he had to give back the cool $50,000 given by Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein to Geller's campaign committee, which he dubbed "Floridians for a Stronger Tomorrow").

Rogers was first appointed to the Florida Commission on Ethics by Crist in 2007 -- about the time he got the school butterfly garden contract -- and was made chairman this past April.

Rogers hasn't returned my calls in the past, but I'm putting one in this morning and will update with any new information.

-- I was thinking about doing a post about the absurdity of two filthy-rich dudes -- Rick Scott and Jeff Greene -- taking the lead in both primary races to take over the governor's mansion. Thankfully, Fred Grimm beat me to the punch. Think about these guys. The one on the Republican side, Rick Scott, owned a company that committed the biggest health fraud in United States history. The other one, Greene, had Mike Tyson as his best man when he got married in 2007. Here's the link to Grimm's column.

-- We folks of Pulpland seem to always be waiting impatiently on law enforcement to act to help clean up this town. We're waiting on the U.S. Attorney's Office to bring more arrests in the Rothstein case (it's been nine months since he fled to Morocco; hundreds of thousands of babies have been conceived and born; we have two -- two! -- arrests). We're waiting on the State Attorney's Office to bring more arrests in Chaitgate. And now we're waiting on the Davie Police Department to bring justice in the killing of Jonathan "Ynot" Corso. After the jump, see the latest video that illustrates Corso's life. 

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Journalist Bob Norman has been raking the muck of South Florida for the past 25 years. His work has led to criminal cases against corrupt politicians, the ouster of bad judges from the bench, and has garnered dozens of state, regional, and national awards.
Contact: Bob Norman