FORT LAUDERDALE — Broward County Sheriff Al Lamberti will not amend his state required gift disclosure forms to include Super Bowl credentials provided to his son which allowed the teenager to join his father with unrestricted access to last year’s Super Bowl at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens.
The sheriff’s spokesman is denying that the credentials constituted a gift which therefore must be reported.
Being granted credentials is different than receiving tickets as the credentials may allow more access to certain areas such as the sidelines and lockers rooms. They are usually reserved for law enforcement officers, celebrities and NFL alumni.
Lamberti has not addressed or otherwise explained the issue, despite repeated requests made to his office, but a department spokesman said the sheriff will not amend his disclosure forms to include the
“I don’t know how those credentials could be viewed as a gift,” Jim Leljedal, director of Media Relations for the Broward Sheriff’s Office, said in an e-mail to South Florida Times.
Amending gift disclosure forms requires detailed explanations of gifts, their value and the reasons they were not listed in the initial filings. State law requires elected and appointed officials, as well as certain public employees, to report gifts or benefits they or family members receive.
Citing agency rules, Florida Commission on Ethics spokesman Kerrie J. Stillman would not comment on the Super Bowl credentials or any other specific case.
“Only the commission can hear cases and determine if a violation may have occurred,” Stillman said.
According to state statutes, the Ethics Commission is prohibited from looking into Lamberti’s Super Bowl controversy unless a complaint is filed or a public official requests an opinion. The potential penalties for violating disclosure rules range from public censure to fines of up to $10,000, to forfeiture of salary or removal or suspension from office.
Super Bowl 44 was held on Feb. 7, 2010, with the New Orleans Saints defeating the Indianapolis Colts 31-17. Initial tickets went on sale at prices ranging from $1,740 for upper end zone seats to more than $325,000 for luxury suites. Sideline, locker room and on-the-field passes carried an additional premium, according to online ticket retailer StubHub.com.
The exact value of the credentials the sheriff’s son received is unknown. According to a sources closely connected with Super Bowl 44 and the National Football League, the price could be thousands of dollars when compared to an all-access pass. Tickets to most Super Bowl functions fetch a hefty price. Tickets to get into the parking lot for tailgating packages at the upcoming Super Bowl, for example, start at $1,600.
Leljedal defended the credentials given to the sheriff’s son.
“Over 300 people from BSO got credentials and hundreds more from other agencies got credentials and I’m sure no one thought they were getting a gift,” Leljedal said.
A review of that list of more than 300 people shows all were deputies and employees of the sheriff’s department who performed actual security-related duties. Lamberti’s son was not listed among them. Instead, he was listed on a separate matrix that was compiled on BSO letterhead as part of the NFL VIP Detail.
“There are no documents because it was not a BSO function,” Leljedal said in response to a public records request from the South Florida Times. “The deputies were off duty, working for the NFL, and the NFL made their own list if they needed one.”
Nonetheless, documents reviewed by South Florida Times show official BSO documents listed the sheriff’s son, Nick, as a member of the security contingent BSO provided for the American Football Conference. All BSO employees have an identification number, referred to as a CCN number. The sheriff’s son’s CCN number was listed as BSO-000, giving the impression he was an employee.
BSO says they do not know who completed those documents or how the teenager received the credentials.
Contrary to department policy, the NFL VIP Detail operated outside the purview of the Office of Special Detail which normally handles off-duty detail and outside employment.
BSO provided a list of nine people who worked the NFL VIP Detail but the actual number was higher, according to several sources. In violation of another BSO policy those who worked the detail were paid directly by the NFL.
BSO policy also requires all outside work to be approved via what is termed a Form 45. The form has detailed descriptions of the work to be performed and the employer and must be signed by the chain of command all the way up to the sheriff or his designee.
“By Form 45 I assume you mean the off-duty employment form. I thought I explained to you that the forms were not required in this instance. The purpose of the form is to keep our command staff informed of which deputies or employees are working side jobs and what sort of work they are doing,” Leljedal said in another e-mail.
“If the command staff disapproves of the off-duty employment, it can be denied. The command staff was well aware of the complex demands of the Super Bowl and they knew who was working off-duty for the NFL during those few days a year ago,” Leljedal said.
Elgin Jones may be reached at: EJones@SFLTimes.com
PICTURED: Sheriff Al Lamberti