It's time once again to play America's favorite political game...Name That Party!
This time the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel really had me stumped. It was their story about a former Broward (county) Teachers Union president who was arrested for stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars in union funds. What kept me scratching my head was that the Sun-Sentinel reporters wrote that some of the funds went to political campaigns but made no mention of the political party of the recipients. Here is the lead of the story that offered no real clues as to the political party:
FORT LAUDERDALE —
Former Broward Teachers Union president Pat Santeramo is accused of stealing about $300,000 of union funds through kickbacks from a contractor, sick and vacation pay obtained through a forged document, and personal use of BTU credit cards.
.....Former BTU executive board member Jeanne Albertus, who was one of the first to voice concerns about Santeramo, said board members became suspicious when they saw the same company, Marstan Construction of Coral Springs, receive all the contract work.
"There were things coming up and we brought the questions up, and we didn't get any answers from Mr. Santeramo, which cued us in that we needed to have an audit done," Albertus said.
In more than 30 instances from 2006 to 2011, David Esposito of Marstan supplied inflated invoices to the union to change light bulbs, kill ants, dye Santeramo's office carpet, fix toilets and other maintenance work at BTU's Tamarac headquarters, according to court documents.
When the union paid the bills, Esposito gave Santeramo cash in amounts of $1,000 to $20,000, for a total of $165,500, an affidavit states.
"I didn't think anybody could be infected with that many ants," said Broward Sheriff Al Lamberti, whose agency investigated Santeramo for nine months with the Broward State Attorney's office and BTU's help. "With every bill, there was something tacked on for him."
And here is the part where Sun-Sentinel reporters, Linda Trischitta and Scott Travis, torture us by mentioning illegal political contributions by the arrested former union president but neglects to inform as to which party:
In addition to the funds he is accused of stealing for personal benefit, prosecutors said Santeramo and scores of union members and associates made contributions to presidential, gubernatorial and school board campaigns for which Santeramo reimbursed them, as well as himself, using union funds.
Which campaigns and, more importantly, which political party? Your humble correspondent flat out admits that he was completely stumped as to which party benefited from the illegal contributions. Therefore I proceeded to do what I usually do when stumped in Name That Party---I cheated. This time I cheated by peeking at the free weekly South Florida newspaper, the Broward Palm Beach New Times, which will often provide more more information than the grossly overpriced Sun-Sentinel. And here is what I discovered in my New Times "cheat sheet" which gave me a lot of information in just the title of their article:
BREAKING: Broward Teachers Union Funds Used in Illegal Contributions to Hillary Clinton, Alex Sink, Investigators Say
So why was the Sun-Sentinel so shy in revealing this information anywhere in their story which the New Times posted upfront in their title? Of course, the title didn't state the political party so I sneaked a peek at the New Times article which revealed this:
Santeramo is accused to telling a team of 25 people to contribute funds to the Democratic campaigns and that "they and their family members would be reimbursed for these political contributions," according to prosecutors. Internal emails Santeramo allegedly sent to the BTU bookkeeper outline the instructions for reimbursing these people for the contributions, which also included contributions to Nora Rupert's 2010 campaign for Broward County School Board.
So thank you, New Times, for solving the mystery of the political party to which the teachers union illegal contributions were made. It provided the answer that the Sun-Sentinel neglected to report.