Jenne's free trips never reported

 

wdemarzo@MiamiHerald.com

During his seven years in office, Broward Sheriff Ken Jenne has only once reported receiving a gift - four 1998 World Series tickets worth $900 from Yankee owner George Steinbrenner.

What the sheriff has not publicly reported is at least two private plane trips to the Bahamas and Caribbean, The Herald has learned.

Those omissions cast another cloud over Jenne - already under criminal investigation for his private business dealings - who may have been required to report them as gifts or honoraria.

Every quarter, public officials must report gifts exceeding $100 that are not directly prohibited under state law, such as a lobbyist's gift. Annually, officials also must report "honoraria" events where they give a speech and their travel-related expenses are paid by others, such as lobbyists and their employers.

Jenne's attorney, David Bogenschutz, said the sheriff was not required to report the 2003-04 trips to the Bahamas and Barbados because they were honoraria-related events - not gifts.

Both trips "constituted honoraria, which are not gifts, and are not required to be reported to the state of Florida, " Bogenschutz said. "Additionally, a Form 9 [gift disclosure] is only required to be filed in the quarter after a gift has been received. No gift equals no filing."

Bogenschutz declined further comment on Tuesday.

But the Florida Commission on Ethics said public officials must disclose the names of lobbyists or agency vendors who pay "reasonable" expenses for their honoraria-related events - including a statement of hotel, food, beverage and transportation costs.

ETHICAL VIOLATION?

In Jenne's case, the sheriff may have crossed an ethical line when he recommended his own consulting firm for hire to a BSO vendor, Innovative Surveillance Technology Inc.

In addition to paying $4,000 to Jenne's firm, Havloc LLC, last year, the Coral Springs security company footed the bill for a chartered plane that took its top executives and the sheriff to a graduation ceremony for the Royal Barbados Police Force. Over the past five years, BSO paid about $230,000 to Innovative for vans and other equipment.

The ethics code bars public officials or employees from doing private business with a company that sells products or services to their agency.

"Anytime a public official gets involved privately with an entity doing business with his agency, there are concerns raised by the code of ethics, " said Philip Claypool, the deputy executive director and general counsel for the Ethics Commission.

"It might be something we would look at if someone were to file a complaint, " said Claypool, who, as policy, cannot comment on Jenne's business dealings with Innovative and the Barbados trip.

Claypool said, however, that the Ethics Commission has never looked at a case like the Barbados trip, which involved not only a BSO vendor who paid for the sheriff's flight, but also a foreign police force that says it did not cover Jenne's other travel expenses.

Initially, Innovative Surveillance Technology hired Jenne's company - a partnership formed by the sheriff and his two top commanders, Undersheriff Tom Carney and Lt. Col. Tom Brennan - to develop anti-terrorism training courses for Caribbean law enforcement agencies.

At least a half-dozen BSO deputies, paid $1,000 each as independent contractors by Innovative, used Havloc's training manuals to teach Barbados police officers in Bridgetown during January 2004.

Barbados Police Commissioner Darwin Dottin said he invited Jenne, who makes $156,395 as Broward sheriff, to be the guest speaker at the graduation ceremony of officers who had completed the post-9/11 course.

TOO POOR TO PAY

Dottin said his department did not pay any of the sheriff's bills for hotel, food and other costs during his Jan. 29-30 visit. "He paid for his own visit, " Dottin said. "We're a poor department."

Normally, the host of an honoraria-related event pays for such expenses for a guest speaker.

BSO could not confirm Tuesday whether the sheriff's office covered Jenne's travel expenses, excluding Innovative's chartered plane.

Jenne's other trip in question took place in January 2003, when members of the South Florida Crime Commission traveled to an anti-terror symposium in the Bahamas.

Bernard Klepach, president of DFASS (Duty Free Air and Ship Supply), of Miami, loaned his Gulfstream jet to the commission. Another commission member, an executive of the BSO vendor Innovative Surveillance Technology, asked Jenne and two of his staff members to fly on the private jet to Nassau.

Royal Bahamas Police Commissioner Paul Farquharson said he had invited Jenne and other officials involved in a joint terrorism task force to speak at the Jan. 23-24 symposium.

Farquharson said he was unable to confirm whether his police force provided complimentary hotels, food and island transportation for officials who participated in the Bahamas Conclave on Terrorism. It was held at the former Marriott Hotel, now the Wyndham. But he said: "That is the usual practice if we ask a speaker to come."

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