FORT LAUDERDALE — A top official of the Democratic Black Caucus of Florida, caught in a controversy surrounding party funds, should be removed from office, a panel has recommended.
The caucus’ grievance committee is calling for the ouster of Ruth Roman Lynch as vice president and for her to be barred from holding elected or appointed office in the organization for four years.
Lynch is also vice-chairwoman of the Broward County Democratic Executive Committee and a declared Broward County School Board candidate. Lynch could not be reached for comment and she did not respond to several e-mails from South Florida Times.
She did, however, send an e-mail on June 4 about the matter to attorney Douglas Harrison that was copied to caucus members throughout the state.
In her email, Lynch asked Harrison to “take care” of the matter with Alan Brown, immediate past president of the Broward chapter of the caucus, who has been asking her for an accounting of donations and expenditures related to the organization’s 2010 annual convention. Lynch chaired a sub-committee that organized the convention.
“Who do these people think they are? I would like for Mr. Brown to cease and desist in emailing or having any direct communication with me about anything,” Lynch wrote in the e-mail.
She also told Harrison she wanted to discuss with him “the possibility of having the Democratic Black Caucus of Florida reimburse me for the $1,741.30 I personally donated to the Conference, not to mention the time and energy I expended during this process.”
“I have never in my life seen a bunch of African Americans trying to destroy another Black person in this manner. Thank God, that I carry myself in such a manner that my character is always above reproach,” Lynch said in her email to Harrison.
Lynch has 30 days to respond to the committee’s recommendation before a specially called meeting will be held by the Florida Democratic Black Caucus’ executive committee to act on the findings.
The committee’s report bears the name of its chairwoman, Daisy Black, the caucus’ immediate past president, and Dorothy Jackson, vice-chairwoman and also a caucus past president.
Black told the South Florida Times that the committee sent Lynch a notice of the grievance via certified mail to provide her an opportunity to provide a response. Black says Lynch has not taken delivery of the letter.
The panel looked into a complaint filed by Brown, who claimed Lynch failed to submit an accounting for the convention.
The complaint also alleged Lynch deposited into her personal bank account a check for $1,500 that had been intended for the convention.
The committee concluded that both allegations had merit. Black, who is also mayor of the village of El Portal in Miami-Dade County, said the committee confirmed the accusations made against Lynch.
“The seriousness of the second violation; Co-mingling of funds, is an obvious act of Malfeasance,” the committee’s report alleges.
The evidence included a May 25 e-mail that Mildred “Milli” Smith, Party Affairs director for the Florida Democratic Party, sent to Lynch concerning the check for $1,500 that had been written by the Florida Democratic Party.
Smith told Lynch in the e-mail that after Smith received a copy of the check she learned that it had been “deposited into your ersonal account.”
“The email from Millie Smith was verified as factual by Mrs. Smith in several onversations with the committee,” Black told South Florida Times.
The committee report said, “The back of the check clearly showed it was endorsed and deposited into an account of Ruth Lynch and not the Democratic Black Caucus of Florida or the account of the Broward Democratic Black Caucus.”
“I filed the complaint after members of the Black Caucus were unable to get financial reports about the convention,” Brown said. I think the grievance ommittee looked at the evidence and took the necessary action.”
Brown said he met with prosecutors and turned over bank statements, e-mails and other documents this week. However, Broward State Attorney’s Office spokesman Ron Ishoy declined to discuss the case.
The Florida Democratic Party is downplaying the dispute surrounding Lynch.
“There is no issue or story here,” Florida Democratic Party spokesman Eric Jotkoff said recently when asked for a comment. “It was a miscommunication that has been addressed and we are focusing on electing Democrats in 2012.”
***Pictured above is Ruth Lynch, left, and Daisy Black, right.