Monday, March 28, 2016

Multiple South Florida condos under state investigation for election fraud | Miami Herald

Multiple South Florida condos under state investigation for election fraud | Miami Herald

"Frustrated condo residents say they have few options. Local police agencies say that most of the complaints do not involve criminal activities and can be handled in civil courts. Prosecutors say police or the DBPR are responsible for enforcing the laws, but the state agency argues that it cannot investigate complaints about actions that fall outside its jurisdiction or that lack sufficient evidence. After receiving several complaints in recent months from residents alleging financial mismanagement, lack of transparency and electoral fraud in condominiums, el Nuevo Herald and UnivisiĆ³n 23 launched an investigation. Their findings included at least 84 fraudulent signatures on ballots for the board of directors at The Beach Club. From the more than 500 complaints filed with the DBPR by condo owners in Miami-Dade in 2015, the investigative team focused on the 81 cases still under state investigation. Of those, 27 involved alleged irregularities in elections to boards of directors — people who approve lucrative contracts for the condos and 31 involved a lack of access to information that owners have a right to obtain under state laws. Another nine cases involved allegations of financial mismanagement. The rest involved the unauthorized use of reserve funds, disputes over fines and other issues."




2 comments:

robert @ colorado hoa . com said...

Another Isolated Incident

“The people who post here are for the most part very well informed concerning both the workings of their own associations and the public policy situation in their state and across the nation. That statement, ‘You people must somehow believe that the fees the HOA collect (sic) go to somewhere other than the community’ is true. An enormous amount of those fees get shuffled off into the pockets of lawyers and property managers. Some of that goes for necessary activities. Some goes to pay making handicapped children use the back door, forcing people to tear down their kid's swing set or their political signs, or some other preposterous and antisocial enforcement action. Sometimes it goes to pay for elections that would shame a banana republic” (Evan McKenzie. October 09, 2009).

“You can vote in China, and in your HOA” (George Staropoli).

On one side, we have Republicans who complain about voter fraud in public elections, and voter intimidation in labor union elections (e.g., “card check”). On the other side, we have Democrats who complain about voter disenfranchisement and voter intimidation and voter suppression in public elections. Both political parties have policy proposals to address these issues.

Yet when owners of H.O.A-burdened property complain to anyone who will listen, they are often told “vote to change it”, as though fraud, intimidation, disenfranchisement, and suppression don't exist in H.O.A. elections. In some/most/all(?) states, there not even a statutory right for home owners to vote in H.O.A. elections. For some strange reason, politicians from both parties act as though H.O.A. elections are textbook examples of clean and fair elections that accurately represent the will of the incredibly-satisfied-with-H.O.A.-living home owners (except for the few “neighborhood malcontents who couldn't get along with Mother Theresa”).

Consider that between 2011 - 2015, 38 persons pled guilty and 4 were convicted in a conspiracy to rig H.O.A. elections in about a dozen H.O.A. corporations in Nevada. The resultant economic damage was estimated to be between $58 million and $76 million. A dozen represents .004% (1/25,000) of the H.O.A. corporations in America. Imagine how much damage election fraud in all 300,000+ H.O.A. corporations across the nation can do to the economy! Hint: multiply by 25,000.

Three points about that case are relevant here:

1) The first person to plead guilty was Steve Wark, former Chairman of the Nevada Republican Party (August 30 2011 and August 31 2011). One would think that, even if only for purely partisan and political reasons, Democrats would have made an issue of that.

2) The home owners who were being victimized complained to state regulatory and law enforcement agencies for five years. Nothing was done until the F.B.I. intervened in 2008 (June 03, 2012).

3) In order to prosecute the case, the defendants had to be charged with mail and wire fraud because “it wasn’t specifically illegal to rig an HOA board election” (June 04, 2012).

Deborah Goonan said...

Robert makes some very good points.

Here's another way that voting is rigged in CIDs, particularly large-scale planned communities with HOAs. Three words: Representative Voting Members.

I personally saw how this scheme works.

A large scale "Master" HOA is divided into multiple "Voting Districts" or "Sub-Associations" roughly corresponding to construction phases in the development plan. EachVoting District supposedly gets to elect their own Voting Member or Voting Representative. In practice, I have never seen a bonafide voting member election with real ballots or even proxies and a designated member meeting for the Voting District. If there is an acutaly Sub-Association, it has its own Board "election" then the President - officers are chosen by the Board, not the members - becomes the representative on the Master HOA.

The bottom line is that a handful of people vote on behalf thousands of units for all matters under the control of the Master Association. Thousands of residents of voting age have to pay Master HOA assessments, and abide by all the CC&Rs, but only a dozen or two voting members get to actually vote.

I have lived in townships of populations between 1000-6000, and every registered voter could vote! And because of the size of the township, voters got to elect ALL members of the commission/board of supervisors, not just ONE member. See the difference between democratic voting outside HOA Land and Corporate Plutocracy voting in HOAs?

Just to satisfy myself that my former HOA was not an anomoly, I actually read the CC&Rs and ByLaws of dozens of other large scale communities to see if their process was any different. I have not seen one yet that is democratic. I have not even seen one that allows all members to vote (which already usually excludes tenants and non-onwers, or anyone with a covenant violation - bogus or real). And of course, attaching votes to PROPERTY instead of PERSONS is inherently undemocratic.