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Rothstein Dealings With Broward Health Raise Questions About Judicial Appointment

Attorneys at Scott Rothstein's firm landed a highly privileged meeting with the executive leadership of the North Broward Hospital District in September 2008, the month after Rothstein was appointed by his friend, Gov. Charlie Crist, to the nominating committee for Florida's 4th District Court of Appeals, according to documents that were part of an internal investigation at the district.

Also, at that meeting: Broward Health Chief Operating Officer Spencer Levine, who was seeking the judicial appointment by that very same committee on which Rothstein had a vote.

Conspicuous by his absence: Troy Kishbaugh, the acting general counsel, a position that based on the district's charter gave him sole responsibility for selecting outside attorneys, the status Rothstein's firm was seeking. The architect of the meeting: Commissioner Joseph Cobo, who is currently weathering a criminal investigation for corruption by the Broward State Attorney's Office.

Yup, this is going to get complicated. Let's get into it after the jump.

The documents are contained within the files amassed by Martin Goldberg, the former federal prosecutor who was hired by the hospital district to investigate allegations by Kishbaugh that Cobo was exploiting his power as a commissioner to advance private work at his physician consulting practice.

Before we get back into those documents, a bit of history: Several months before that meeting, then-general counsel Laura Seidman had reported to the district's compliance department her concerns about Cobo collaborating with Levine to allow Cobo influence on the district's management, despite that being expressly forbidden by the district's charter. In that April 2, 2008 memo Seidman wrote that "Spencer Levine is either complicit in Commissioner Cobo's self-interested way of discharging his duties or he is turning a blind eye toward the conduct." (The compliance department found Seidman's allegation to have no merit.)

Typically, an attorney trying to win Broward Health's participation in a lawsuit would contact the general counsel, which in September 2008 was Kishbaugh, who held that position in the interim after Seidman was pressured to resign that April.

But Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler attorney Carlos Reyes had known Cobo for about 10 years, according to what Reyes told the investigator, Goldberg. So Reyes called Cobo -- not Kishbaugh -- and scheduled a lunch at Rothstein HQs Bova Prime to discuss the possibility of the public hospital district's joining a class action suit against bond issuers. The firm was looking for parties on behalf of firms in Tampa and in California who were bringing the suit.

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Thomas Francis

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