Broward News

Governor's Office: We're on the Lookout for Dirty Hospital Commissioners

Sterling Ivey, press secretary for Gov. Charlie Crist, responded to Juice coverage of the scandals at the North Broward Hospital District with a short statement indicating the governor's office was keeping tabs on the case but wasn't ready to act. Said Ivey in a short email:

We are aware of the investigation and reviewing the materials sent to our office. We have not determined which course of action we will take at this time.
The "materials sent to our office" refers to the report issued by former assistant U.S. Attorney Martin Goldberg, who was hired to investigate Commissioner Joseph Cobo. But in addition to that the report, which determined that Cobo probably did violate ethics guidelines at the district and state law, the governor's office received the tape of the May 27 Board of Commissioners meeting where Goldberg was pilloried by Cobo supporters who did not seem to realize that the board's chairman, Mike Fernandez, was largely to blame for Goldberg's report being incomplete and was definitely the reason Goldberg was not present at the meeting. Emails made public over the last few weeks revealed that Fernandez told Goldberg not to attend, a point that the chairman didn't clarify when speakers accused Goldberg of cowardice. After reading press accounts of that meeting, Goldberg demanded the board correct the record but he was refused.

The district's former associate general counsel, Joe Truhe, has gone public with his suspicions that the May 27 meeting was orchestrated to create a "misleading record" for the governor's office, which could claim that the meeting raised questions about the investigator's integrity -- just enough ambiguity for the governor who appointed Cobo to let him off the hook.

Based on the statement, it's apparent that Crist's staff is going to milk the clock, hope that the controversy just fades away. That strategy might work, provided that there aren't any more spectacular lapses in ethics by his appointed commissioners. But if the controversy continues it's exponential growth, then you can bet Crist's campaign staff will be telling the governor's staff that it's time he cut ties to these two deep-pocketed friends in Broward County.

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Thomas Francis