Palm Beach County Democrats Facing Upheaval

Palm Beach County is the second most reliably Democratic large county in the state. Behind its sibling to the south, Broward, the county produces the largest margins consistently for Democratic candidates statewide. Recently, while Broward’s Democratic Party has been rocked by fiefdoms and factions, the Palm Beach party has effectively registered voters, targeted critical areas and worked to increase both absentee and election day turnout.
The Chairman of the Palm Beach DEC, FDP Vice Chairman and prospective chairman come 2013, Mark Alan Siegel, has come under fire in recent weeks. Siegel has organized the Palm Beach party effectively  when compared to other counties, even his many critics should admit.  However, two recent scandals have rocked the local party and have created potential problems for the Democratic ticket in November as well as for Siegel’s ambitions of leading the state party.
One scandal involves Evelyn Garcia, who until this week was a DNC member. Garcia made several ill advised statements about Israel and was forced to resign. Much like during a 2003 scandal involving former DEC member Rob Ross who was accused of being sympathetic to Holocaust deniers, the Palm Beach Party leadership was slow to react. In the Ross matter, many of the same Democrats creating a stink about Garcia today, were silent at that point. What has changed? These “Democrats” are threatened by an effective and strong DEC, working hard to get out the vote exclusively for Democratic candidates.
The Garcia mess, despite the best efforts of Republican leaning groups, will blow over, but that of C. Shahid Freeman may not. Freeman now faces a criminal investigation into fraudulently practicing law and collecting money to help with immigration cases locally. The scandal has rocked the local Democratic Party over the past month and threatened the good work Siegel and his board have done to organize Palm Beach County over the past several years.
Despite all of this, few questions can be asked of Siegel’s effectiveness as Chairman of the Palm Beach party. Unlike most DEC’s Palm Beach actually has functioning precinct captains and plans that turn out voters. Additionally, the party has worked to recruit candidates for races and defied local power brokers who play both parties against the middle to protect and promote their own personal fiefdoms. Still all of this could be lost if these scandals are not contained quickly. It is no small irony that these circumstances are being fueled by local Republicans and Republican friendly Democrats who are helping to undermine the ability of the local Democratic Party to turn out the vote in November.
As someone who previously worked as a paid employee of the Palm Beach Democratic Party and who continued to keep my hand on the pulse of the county, these are unfortunate developments. Siegel,  unlike many his predecessors, has effectively organized the party at a grassroots level. Unlike what happens in many other large counties, members of the DEC in Palm Beach have worked hard to turn out the vote but now face serious election distractions.
The chief beneficiary of these scandals are local Republicans and ultimately Mitt Romney and Connie Mack IV. While serious concerns about Siegel’s leadership have been raised following these revelations, in order to prevent leakage this election cycle, local Democrats need to work hard and together to put these issues behind them quickly.

Whether local Democrats support or oppose Siegel and his efforts to become the Chairman of the FDP, they need to work together now to move past these matters.

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37 thoughts on “Palm Beach County Democrats Facing Upheaval

  1. Palm Beach County is fascinating to me as an outsider because of the number of deals that seem to be hatched by the two parties with one another and the sheer number of Democrats who back Republicans for local office and vise versa.

    It is an odd dynamic there.

  2. You do not go deep enough on the fact that when local Democratic leaders like Aaronson,Wexler, Sachs, and others openly went against Democrats running for office, Seigel did nothing to stand up to them and stop such actions. As long as these same people LET him keep his job, Seigel looked the other way. Remember the 2 DEC members who turned their backs on Aaronson at a meeting because he backed Christ ? Seigel wanted to sanction them. What does this really say about his leadership ???
    Let’s not forget it was Aaronson who got Rob Ross a high position on the DEC.

  3. Siegel is an important lieutenant in the Smith team. He stands a good chance of taking the reigns himself in January.

    He has a lot of backing for state chair.

  4. I guess the big question is whether Siegel of the other DEC leadership knew about this immigration scam.

    Were they also trying ti get citizenship to help register new Democrats????

    If so this will give Rick Scott more ammunition as he pushes forward with his voter purge.

  5. This is a serious situation.

    People around the state are watching this situation closely. I guess the Republicans as you say had a lot to do with fanning the flames but it is still out there and not good.

  6. The Immigration thing is going to finish Siegel off. The real leadership locally led by Dr. Andre Fladell, Commissioner Burt Aaronson, and Congressman Ted Deutch are already planning the succession.

    Look for changes soon in the DEC.

  7. Dr. Andre Fladell is the chief culprit using his clubs and presidents to create this upheaval you refer to.

  8. Siegel has tried to cozy up to the leadership but at the same time has caused us problems. He has pushed an agenda of making the DEC kingmakers in elections locally rather than elected officials those who have been elected by the people.

  9. We all backed Crist because he was the real Democrat who could beat Rubio. Siegel’s use of the DEC to push candidates and interfere in primaries should be left exclusively to the People’s Choice PAC led by Aaronson, Wexler and Deutch.

  10. Siegal has been your boy up until most recently. Don’t kid yourself. Elected by the people would be whom? Those that hid themselves with a code name of morning star? Why don’t you ask Robert Wexler to be DEC chair? Oh yeah only if he was a Florida resident. You know someone should let him know there is not just a paper trail but a money trail as well. Tell Burt to stop acting like Robert is good for anyone but himself, his consultants and all those he has probably paid off in the community. Siegal did a great job with the whole Crist/Meek cover for you guys. Didn’t work out so much huh?

  11. I was intrigued by this and googled “Rob Ross Burt Aaronson Palm Beach DEC” and the following came up:

    This past week we all found out that local political chameleon, Rob Ross, is not only a liar, but also a Nazi sympathizer who doesn’t believe the Holocaust ever took place. In addition to all the other shenanigans this creep has been involved with over the past several years while working for both the Republicans and now the Democrats he also finds the time to read the writings of David Irving, a so-called British military historian and noted Holocaust denier. Ross even went so far as to give Irving legal advice in his fight against Emory University Professor Deborah Lipstadt, who had written that Irving distorted history to make Adolf Hitler look good. While the Ross angle is great fodder for the media the real story is once again the ineptness of the Democratic party right here in our own backyard of Palm Beach County and on a state level as well. Ross, who has espoused bizarre conservative views throughout a lifetime of political involvement, quit the Republican Party last year after swearing up and down that he would never work for a Democratic candidate. Lo and behold, he not only showed up on the Palm Beach County Democratic Party doorstep, he managed to secure a position on their executive committee. Until he resigned this past week, Ross was budget and finance chairman of the party he vowed never to have anything to do with. This all begs the question of how Ross became a member of the executive committee in the first place. That, my friends, is a question that Democrats throughout this state wait anxiously to be answered. What is even more disturbing is that Ross remains on the executive committee of the Palm Beach County Democratic Party even though he is no longer its finance chairman. According to county D.E.C. Chairperson, Carol Ann Loehndorf there is no legal mechanism for removing Ross from the executive committee. So basically what she is saying is that the Democrats are scared of getting sued by Ross. They would rather leave this clown on the executive committee rather than face a lawsuit by kicking him to the curb. As to the question of how Ross emerged as a leader of the county party in the first place one would have to look to Loehndorf for answers. Someone else who needs to answer for this debacle is Palm Beach County Commissioner Burt Aaronson. He is too involved in county Democratic politics to not know the inner workings of the decision to bring Ross on board. In fact, he had meetings with Ross on more than one occasion during the last campaign period in an effort to defeat County Commissioner Mary McCarty. Both Aaronson and Ross were working diligently to defeat the incumbent commissioner that Aaronson openly despises. Is it possible that Aaronson’s deep dislike for McCarty led to an impulsive decision to elevate Ross to a position he did not deserve even before his Holocaust views became public? Needless to say this would prove to be very embarrassing for Aaronson who certainly wouldn’t have hitched his wagon to Ross had he known of his idiotic take on the Holocaust. Regardless, Loehndorf and Aaronson know more than they are letting on about this whole Ross affair and they need to enlighten us all before it is too late. As for why Ross still remains on the executive committee that is a question for every Democratic leader in Palm Beach County and throughout the state of Florida. Democrats need to hear from their leadership as to why Ross is still in a position of authority. Ron Klein, Ron Greenstein, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Alcee Hastings, Robert Wexler and Peter Deutsch, we can’t hear you. You should be blasting away at Ross until he has no choice but to pack his bags and leave town on the next bus. Damn the possible lawsuit, Ross has to go. And for that matter so does Loehndorf, who as D.E.C. leader has to take responsibility for putting Ross in a position of authority in the first place. Another week goes by and more egg piles up on the face of the Democratic Party. Will somebody please stand up and take control of a state party that desperately needs leadership? The Democratic Party is a ship without a rudder. Somebody needs to put it back on course,quickly.

    I wonder where all the outrage was when this happened? I first got involved after the Kerry election so I am shocked to learn of this.

  12. Yes. Aaronson was largely silent about Ross despite attacking Garcia for political reasons now.

  13. Orlando? Caylee Anthony?

    Fort Lauderdale? Scott Rothstein?

    Tampa? Rhonda Storms?

    Pleeeeeeze. Palm Beach is far from the worst.

  14. Scott Rothstein, Mitch Caeser, Diane Glasser, Scott Cowin, Buddy Nevins & Dave Brown?????

    Makes Burt Aaronson look enlightened.

    Buddy Nevins never would have survived up here.

  15. We are concerned that this is a coup attempt to bring Burt Aaronson soon to be unemployed ti the chairmanship. Aaronson and Fladell have not been able to become kingmakers on the state level. In fact they almost always back the losers. If they can throw support to the opposition of Siegel on the state level by using these issues, Garcia, Freeman and others to create circumstances for a coup it works for them. Look for Aaronson to be rewarded with the DEC Chair and an appointment by the victorious FDP chairman as state director of Jewish outreach.

  16. I totally forgot about Ross. Much more serious than Garcia.

    The Freeman thing is a disaster for all Democrats. How will we regain the faith of Hispanic voters?

  17. If that was true, how come Ross was a frequent visitor to aaronson’s office ?? Check the visitor logs for that time. The reporter who wrote this story most certainly did. Just in case you forgot, we all did not back Christ and turns out Christ did not beat Rubio. It was in the newspaper just in case you are as uninformed as you appear.

  18. While Siegel has tried to be pragmatic, strengthening the DEC and its ability to influence local elections while playing ball with the faction that wants to keep the party weak and make deals with the Republicans. At the same time he has pushed himself statewide showing up at events of other DECs and regional caucuses.Thus, he’s been left with few loyalists to back him up when things like this happen. A pity really, as it seems he has been set up by those trying to keep the party as weak as possible to serve their own nefarious purposes.

  19. frankly it is easy for people sitting behind a keyboard to critique the situation. It is cowardly to attack Commissioner Aaronson and the other leaders based on hearsay. What we know is Siegel has allowed this to fester in the DEC and the leadership of Aaronson, Deutch, Wexler and Fladell have worked to unite the party and stop those like Garcia and Freeman that divide us from gaining power. Siegel has enabled them while trying to maintain a good rapport with the true leadership. Nobody trusts him and the real leadership is that of the People’s Choice PAC. That PAC is working to elect Democrats, while the DEC is fraught with internal strife. The DEC is pointless and worthless.

  20. It won’t blow over for those who have been involved in it for years. Wexler what a joke that guy is. Aaronson and Fladell…and Deutch what a disappointment. People’s Choice PAC that invites club presidents to join Atwater, Cannon and others. Don’t kid yourself MS. Others are catching on……the DEC is pointless thanks to Wexler, Detuch, Aaronson, Fladel and the rest in South and North Countyelectedofficialsand candidates. October surprise might come inJuly or August.

  21. The DEC will always be pointless while the people follow the real leaders, Fladell, Aaronson, Deutch and Wexler. We are the real Democrats. Our Presidents know that and do not care what the DEC does or says.

  22. Your president also knows not to give Dirty Scumbag Wexler a job. I love OBAMA and you scum are not going to fuck this up. I hope Obama and DOJ will take you all down!

  23. Oh yeah. Dr. Fladell invited Speaker Dean Cannon to a so-called Democratic PAC meeting. When Siegel who was his boy steps out of line and defies him scandal in the DEC happens. A never ending cycle in PBC, corruption county!

  24. Fladell did not invite Cannon. Some North Palm Beach elected was going around telling people that. That North Palm Beacher is also playing with Fladell like the rest of them….N and S is no Pafford, Clemens, Bernard all of them like playing with Fladell. They say otherwise so they can seem “progressive”. Word gets around in Tally people not just South County.

  25. Cannon and Atwater have had meetings set up by Fladell with D club leaders. The Weiss/Handler law firm has a major role in this!

  26. If this is true why doesn’t the elected officials that are in power do something instead of playing sheep. We all know North and South County have come together in the Democratic Party under Fladell, Wexler (who staff was arrested and he is not even a resident) and Aaronson, who is used as Eric J scapegoat and do nothing. Deutch and Wexler have been screwing this party more than the hooker Eliot Spitzer got caught with. No one says a damn thing. Now I know why Deutch former aide left his office. What an ass. I work in DC and I can say we all knew it from day one that Deutch was a schmuck. I worked in Tally for another Senator and Deutch was always seen as a dog on Wexler’s leash. He better watch out because he might be the one that might get bit.

  27. Pafford is closely aligned with the liberals and unions in North County, not with Fladell and the south county rebulicrats.

  28. Concerned Democrat,

    No he is not. He is just saying that in public while he reports to Andre and the rest of them. Pafford is so insecure like most of them that he still reports to Andre and pretends otherwise. He has been making deals for some time. He just does not realize that people know this already. Pafford thinks he is Susan but remember…Susan was smart.

  29. Ok. As an actual resident of PBC and democrat, I can tell you that the DEC has accomplished very little. Yes, it has precint captains and all, but it is unable to have an effect on competitive state and local races. Siegel is a refugee from NY politics who thinks that his title matters, but it does not. He, like all DEC “leaders”, is a person with a fancy title and little else. He, and the entire DEC, has been a failure in fundraising and voter turnout organizing. Part of the problem is that DEC members are unaccountable and the obsessed with their own calls for “unity”. The condo commandos are dying off faster than they can be replaced and the DEC has not, and will not, mobilized an alternative group to replace it. Also, the DEC is obsessed with its own irrelevant “rules” and “procedures” which mean nothing when compared to its failure to win elections. As for Evelyn Garcia, I am shocked that she could say anything remotely controversial given how much of a bore she is at the podium. Zzzzz. The DEC also does not screen its members and lets in anyone who is a Democrat, including guys with questionable pasts like Shahid.

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