This article, originally published by Al Zucaro on BocaWatch.org, is preserved for historical purposes by Massive Impressions Online Marketing in Boca Raton.
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Ever wonder what happened to all those FORBOCA.ORG communications; communications that did nothing except villainize BocaWatch and some of its contributors?
Well…the story can now be told…..
The Florida Elections Commission entered into a Consent Final Order finding FORBOCA.Org., INC. in violation of three (3) provisions of Florida’s election laws; the Commission imposed a fine of $3,000; $1,000 per violation.
By way of background…..
FORBOCA.ORG, originally established in March 2016 by former City Council members M.J. (Mike) Arts and Al Travasos along with Tallahassee Attorney Mark Herron, was designed to raise money for the dissemination of misinformation to the community for political reasons in the local elections of 2016 and 2017;
FORBOCA.ORG, disguising as a local blog, was actually produced in Tallahassee with the above local names fronting for its venomous messages; venomous messages about BocaWatch; about me, Al Zucaro; about Jack McWalter; and other ‘resident friendly’ names in the community;
FORBOCA.ORG was instrumental in presenting the opposition’s arguments in the November 2016 Intracoastal Waterfront Land (Wildflower) referendum and the March 2017 Boca Raton City Council election;
FORBOCA.ORG, established as a not-for-profit Florida Corporation, raised lots of opposition money to oppose the referendum and work against ‘resident friendly’ City Council candidates, including Andrea Levine O’Rourke; raising these monies without disclosing from whom the monies came; and, FORBOCA.ORG then forwarded these monies to Political Committees and Electioneering Communication Organizations to be used against the residents during political campaigns preventing residents from seeing the names of contributors funding the opposition’s fight; the kind of political parlor tricks we have just seen again with the failed Armand Grossman City Council campaign.
To what result….
The money raised was in the hundreds of thousands of dollars; amounts the residents would not and could not raise.….but…raising money being their primary goal, when accomplished, became FORBOCA.ORG’s primary downfall….
For the nearly two (2) years that FORBOCA.ORG operated, BocaWatch complained and wrote numerous articles on the subject. Below is a list of articles linked for your review and background information.
In April 2017, a complaint was filed with the Florida Elections Commission against FORBOCA.ORG, INC. alleging, amongst other things, that since its inception, it had been operating as a ‘political committee’ but had never registered as such in violation of several Florida election laws. (See Confidential Complaint Form dated April 20, 2017 attached here) BocaWatch – FORBOCA.ORG FEC_Complaint_17-172
Well, nearly 11 months later, the Florida Elections Commission has agreed!!!
Last week, on March 13, 2018, FORBOCA.ORG., INC., to avoid a full Probable Cause hearing in front of the Florida Elections Commission, entered into a ‘Consent Final Order’ with the elections commission.
(See Consent Order attached). BocaWatch – FORBOCA.org 17-172_Consent Order (2)
According to the Consent Final Order, FORBOCA.ORG., INC., was found to have violated Florida Statutes Sections 106.03(1)(a), 106.19(1)(b) and 106.19(1)(c), each on one occasion.
(All three statutes are attached here) Florida_Statutes_FEC 17-172
This consent order establishes the following admitted violations:
- Florida Statute 106.03(1)(a) – failing to register as a political organization
- Florida Statute 106.19(1)(b) – failing to report any contribution required to be reported by statute
- Florida Statute 106.19(1)(c) – falsely reporting or deliberately failing to include information required by statute
The statutes further states that any candidate or treasurer found to have violated Statute 106.19(1)(b) and/or 106.19(1)(c) is also guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree. No referral has been made by the Florida Elections Commission to the local State Attorney Office and none is expected.
Since its inception, two (2) of the original officers, M.J. ‘Mick’ Arts and Al Travasos, have resigned from the FORBOCA.ORG board. Only Attorney Mark Herron has remained on the Board through this entire process.
At the time of the complaint, the Chairman of FORBOCA.ORG. was former Boca Raton City Councilman/Deputy Mayor and recent candidate for Boca Raton City Council Michael Mullaugh. The other officers, now, are Developer/Lobbyist Mark Guzzetta and Tallahassee Attorney Mark Herron; Mark Herron is also the attorney of record in this negotiated Consent Final Order and is currently representing embattled Mayor Susan Haynie in her ethics complaints at both Palm Beach County and State of Florida Ethics Commissions.
Here is a brief reminder as to who the players in this close knit group of political insiders are:
- Mike Arts…former President of the Boca Raton Chamber of Commerce and former embattled City Council member;
- Albert ‘Al’ Travasos…..former Chairperson of Boca Area Commerce PAC and former Boca Raton City Council member;
- Michael Mullaugh….former Boca Raton Deputy Mayor and recent candidate for Boca Raton City Council for Seat D (withdrawn);
- Mark Guzzetta….former Chairperson of Blue Lake for Responsible Development PAC and former Treasurer for GoBoca ECO and Boca Citizens for Prosperity CCE (see attached article);
- Mark Herron, a Tallahassee Attorney often retained by the Boca Raton City Attorney’s office to represent officials in Tallahassee for ethics matters; pretty ironic wouldn’t you say? (see attached article).
To borrow an overused political phrase since 2016…’DRAIN THE SWAMP’….
This Elections Commission Consent Final Order goes a long way in ‘draining’ the Boca Raton swamp!!!
Another victory for the residents…..Congratulations….
Al Zucaro, Publisher
- Ordinance 5431 – Ethics Crisis in Boca Raton – not nearly enough November 27, 2017
- Mark Guzzetta – Political Influencer Extraordinaire – May 30, 2017
- Boca Raton’s Political Influencers: the men behind the curtain April 24, 2017
- Residents’ win: Recreation and Green Space Prevails March 23, 2017
- Boca Raton Voter Red Alert January 26, 2017
- Boca Raton Sued to Block Election Results January 23, 2017
- The Chamber of Horrors January 16, 2017