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Alan Mendelsohn’

Former S. Fla. lawmaker Mandy Dawson arrested on income tax charges

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011 by Dara Kam

Mandy Dawson, a former state senator whose district included part of Palm Beach County, was arrested yesterday on a federal income tax charge, the Sun Sentinel is reporting.

Dawson was implicated in a federal public corruption probe into Alan Mendelsohn, a Hollywood eye doctor and major political fundraiser with ties to politicians in both parties.

Mendelsohn told federal investigators that he paid Dawson $82,000 through an intermediary in 2003 and 2005 in an effort to persuade her to support legislation he was backing. Dawson left office in 2008 due to term limits.

Dawson, 55, now lives in Daytona Beach, where she was arrested Wednesday morning.

Read the Sun Sentinel story here.

GOP fundraiser admits guilt in corruption case, says he steered $82K to Mandy Dawson

Thursday, December 9th, 2010 by Dara Kam

Alan Mendelsohn, an influential South Florida eye doctor and prominent GOP fundraiser, admitted in court this morning that he steered $82,000 to former state Sen. Mandy Dawson while she was in office.

Mendelsohn, who pleaded guilty in a federal corruption case, also admitted he skimmed more than $300,000 from political committees he oversaw and failed to report more than $600,000 in taxable income from his lobbying and medical work.

Mendelsohn, a member of Gov. Charlie Crist’s 2006 transition team, said in court today he paid $82,000 to a close friend of Dawson’s and that the money was funneled to the Ft. Lauderdale Democrat whose district included part of Palm Beach County.

Read the full story here.

Federal agents question Senate President Jeff Atwater

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009 by Dara Kam

Federal agents investigating the corruption case against Broward County political kingmaker Alan Mendelsohn questioned Senate President Jeff Atwater this morning, Atwater’s spokeswoman confirmed.

Federal Bureau of Investigations agent Brian Szczepanski and four others met with Atwater this morning for about 45 minutes, Atwater’s spokeswoman Jaryn Emhof said.

They asked questions about the “committee process and structure,” Emhof said.

“We cannot comment as to the specifics of the questions, as this is an ongoing investigation,” Emhof said.

The agents from the FBI, the Department of Justice and the Internal Revenue Service have been poking around the Senate all week and have visited with at least five GOP senators, including Atwater.

Atwater’s spokeswoman Jaryn Emhof did not say what the agents asked the North Palm Beach banker about but others interviewed said that they were asked questions about former Sen. Mandy Dawson, Mendelsohn and other senators whom Mendelsohn had held fundraisers for at his Broward County home.

Sen. Dennis Jones, R-Seminole, spoke with four federal agents briefly on Monday. Sen. Paula Dockery said she spoke with two agents yesterday for at least an hour. Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, said he was questioned on Monday as well.

The agents asked questions about how committee chairmanships are assigned, Dockery and Jones said.

Former Senate President Ken Pruitt picked Dawson to chair a health care committee, an unusual move because she is a Democrat. She also became ill during the 2008 session and was frequently absent but Pruitt allowed her to remain on as chairman of the committee in the GOP-dominated Senate.

The investigators include a lawyer who works in the public integrity section of the Department of Justice in Washington.

They asked questions about how committee chairmanships are assigned and about Dawson’s relationship with Mendelsohn, who was indicted in October.

Mendelsohn was the chief fundraiser for the powerful Florida Medical Association and played a major role in channeling hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions to political parties and candidates.

The federal indictment includes the claim that Mendelsohn used three political action committees to funnel $87,000 to a former public official.

The indictment doesn’t name the official. It says the money was passed through an intermediary — also unnamed in the charging document — and disguised as payments for consulting services. The indictment details 10 of the purported payments, totaling $72,000 between May 2004 and December 2005.

The largest alleged payment was $25,000 on June 21, 2004 from “PAC #1.”


Crist calls for statewide grand jury investgation of South Florida corruption

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009 by Dara Kam

Gov. Charlie Crist called for a statewide grand jury to investigate political corruption in South Florida and around the state. Crist said he has removed 30 public officials from office around the state since he’s been governor.

“A recent rash of crimes committed by public officials in South Florida has led to a crisis of confidence among those who have elected them to office,” Crist said. “Today, I have petitioned the Florida Supreme Court to impanel a Grand Jury to investigate these crimes, bring indictments and provide specific recommendations to address fundamental problems within the system that may be cultivating a culture of corruption.”

Read the petition here.

Crist’s request for a grand jury comes after in the wake of the indictments of several Broward County elected officials on federal charges including bribery, money laundering and wire fraud. And prominent GOP fundraiser Alan Mendelsohn, a lobbyist who served on Crist’s transition team, was indicted last week on charges that he diverted at least $350,000 from campaign contribution and clients’ fees to pay for his mistress’ love nest, a luxury car and his kids’ private school tuition.

Palm Beach County led the public corruption scandal sheet in 2006 that resulted in three county commissioners and two West Palm Beach officials going to prison.

The corruption isn’t limited to South Florida, Crist said. He’s asked the grand jury to begin work by focusing on Broward, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Palm Beach, Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Lee and Hendry counties.


Local pols seek their distance from indicted eye doc/moneyman

Monday, October 12th, 2009 by George Bennett

For years, Broward eye doctor Alan Mendelsohn wrote checks and raised money for a host of elected officials from both parties and funneled big bucks into campaigns through shadowy “527″ political committees.

Then the ophthalmologist/moneyman was hit with a 32-count federal indictment accusing him of siphoning much of the committee money for his personal use and directing $87,000 in concealed payments to an unnamed former public official.

Mendelsohn has pleaded not guilty, but the verdict is already in from the former recipients of Mendelsohn’s largesse. They’re distancing themselves from the former money spigot.

Click here to read about Mendelsohn and local pols in this week’s Politics column.

UPDATE: Pruitt says he’s not unnamed official in Mendelsohn indictment

Friday, October 2nd, 2009 by Dara Kam

Former state Senate President Ken Pruitt said this afternoon that he’s not the unnamed former public official who received $87,000 in secret money from Dr. Alan Mendelsohn.
The Daily Pulp blog this morning reported that Pruitt is the unidentified former public official mentioned in the indictment against Mendelsohn, a Broward County eye doctor who is charged with skimming $300,000 in campaign contributions for his own use and illegally using campaign funds to pay for his mistress’ home and car.
Seated behind his desk at the law firm where he works in the Tradition neighborhood of Port St. Lucie, the Port St. Lucie Republican told Palm Beach Post reporter Daphne Duret that he hasn’t been contacted by any law enforcement official about the investigation and rejected The Daily Pulp blog’s allegation that his name surfaced in the investigation.
“It’s a criminal investigation that I am not a part of at all,” he said. “I’m not a part of it, my name, to my knowledge, is not a part of it. I don’t know what else to say.” (more…)

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