Friday, November 20, 2015

Lauren Book collected over $100,000 from her own charity, funded by taxpayer money

Consider this-- Lauren's Kids raked in $1.5 MILLION last year, and nearly 10% alone went to Lauren Book alone. And yet the politicians who voted for the funding don't even know where the money is going? Hint-- check Lauren's bank account.

Nonprofit gets outsized state $$ to fight sex abuse
Dan Sweeney
June 26, 2015

There's a stereotype of pedophiles – creepy strangers lurking at the edge of city parks, cooling their heels in public bathrooms. Lying in wait.

But 90 percent of child sexual abuse comes at the hands of someone whom the child knows, and 95 percent of it is preventable through education, according to Broward County's rape crisis and child advocacy center. That's where the nonprofit organization Lauren's Kids is trying to make a change, by teaching PreK through third graders to recognize signs of danger so they can tell someone.

"The biggest challenge is battling the stigma of child sexual abuse – it's an issue that thrives in darkness, silence and secrecy," said Lauren Book, who founded the Aventura-based charity in 2007. Book, the daughter of prominent lobbyist Ron Book, was sexually abused by a nanny for six years beginning at age 11.

The state this year is giving Lauren's Kids $3.8 million – almost twice as much as any other group in its budget category, which includes organizations such as the YMCA and the Girl Scouts. It is the second year in row it received that much.

Book said Lauren's Kids' $3.8 million is "a direct result of a growing recognition by the Florida Legislature of the pervasive and costly problem that is child sexual abuse and a strengthening commitment to end it in Florida."

Tax records show Book's organization had $438,357 in total revenue in 2010 – that number tripled the next year. By 2013, Lauren's Kids took in $1,810,495, buoyed by $1.5 million in state funds. At the same time, Book's salary as CEO of the organization went from $67,596 to $103,540.

The next year, state funding for the group went up to $3.8 million for the first time. No other organization in that budget category has seen such a meteoric rise.

Local lawmakers who sit on the House and Senate Appropriations committees, which are responsible for setting funding levels, were mystified.

"I've not quite understood why there's been such exponential growth in Lauren's Kids as a budget item," said state Sen. Dwight Bullard, D-Miami. "We understand that the organization's doing the work providing counseling and other programs for young adults that have been victimized. But we do need to know where those dollars are being spent. … I've made the inquiry and have not really received an answer that's substantive."

Lauren Book's father, Ron Book, is the president of Lauren's Kids – she is the CEO and she acknowledges her lobbyist dad certainly doesn't hurt her organization's bottom line.

But she maintains state funding couldn't be going to a better purpose.

She points to a 2012 study by the Florida Council Against Sexual Violence that found a pilot program of Lauren's Kids' curriculum resulted in a 77 percent increase of children's knowledge regarding sexual abuse awareness.

Book said her organization had identified an unaddressed problem – preventative education rather than simply going after perpetrators of crimes.

With the Lauren's Kids educational tools expanding to more grades – fourth and fifth grade are in development and should be available for the 2015-2016 school year – Book's next role may be in the very legislature that has bestowed more than $9 million on her organization in the last three years.

Last September, Book opened a political action committee, Leadership for Broward, which is a fundraising first step when running for office. More than $570,000 has been contributed to the PAC since then. The biggest donations include $100,000 from the Miami Dolphins, $25,000 from Vitas Hospice Care, and $25,000 from the GEO Group private prison company – all clients of Ron Book., 954-356-4605 or Twitter @Daniel_Sweeney

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Ron Book tries to get a Ft Lauderdale street named after Lauren and fails. Good.

The level of arrogance Book family just won't stop. Not content with an entire neighborhood named after them (seeing as how they created that neighborhood, that is understandable), the Books want a major street named after Lauren. Thankfully, it failed. Interestingly, a number of Floridians opposed this measure and is upset the proposal was not up to vote.

The scariest thing is the FloriDUH Senate approved the measure but it died in the House.

Lauderdale won't consider a Lauren Book Boulevard
Larry Barszewski
Sun Sentinel
Street-naming for lobbyist's daughter will have to wait. Bill fails to clear state Legislature.

— There won't be any Lauren Book Boulevard in the city just yet.

City commissioners were to consider a resolution Tuesday night supporting the state Legislature's decision to name a stretch of Federal Highway in honor of Book, a state Senate candidate and the daughter of lobbyist Ron Book.

But the item was pulled from the commission's agenda because of one unnoticed problem: The bill that included the honorary naming apparently didn't pass the Legislature this year after all.

A review of the Florida Senate's web site shows the bill cleared the Senate but was not taken up in the House of Representatives.

People in the city had not been aware of the proposed designation, which would have covered Federal Highway between Sunrise and Broward boulevards. If approved, it would have allowed commemorative signs to be placed in the street's medians at Sunrise Boulevard and near Broward Boulevard.

"We don't need ceremonial names for lobbyist relatives, especially those who are still living and running for current political office," Victoria Park resident Larry Wallenstein said in a written message to commissioners.

Ron Book sought the naming from legislators as a way of honoring his daughter's work through Lauren's Kids, an organization she created that educates adults and children about sexual abuse. Lauren Book herself endured six years of sexual abuse by a nanny. or 954-356-4556

Copyright © 2015, Sun Sentinel

Some of the comments under this article:

Pass a law that anyone who was ever a lobbyist, married to a lobbyist, born to a lobbyist, in any kind of relationship with a lobbyist or in any way related to a lobbyist be forever banned from having a public building, public park, public road, sidewalk or lane named for them now and forever. If I've missed anything, please add it to the list.

Someone else please start the list for developers and politicians.

How about we stop altogether these egomaniac politicians and lobbyists that want their name on everything. What a joke that we're supposed to "honor" them for making a gravy train living off of the taxpayer's back.

Book as in Crook

A father wants the city to name a street for his daughter? Really?? This is really sick.

Here is an earlier article, with comments:

Lauren Book, state senate candidate, getting her own street
Larry Barszewski
South Florida Sun-Sentinel

What gift can a lobbyist dad get for his daughter? How about a street-naming by state legislators?

Lauren Book may be running for state senate in Hollywood, but she could soon have her own boulevard in Fort Lauderdale.

State legislators this year approved naming the stretch of Federal Highway from Broward Boulevard to Sunrise Boulevard for her because of her work with Lauren's Kids, which educates adults and children about sexual abuse. Book herself survived six years of sexual abuse by a nanny.

While Book isn't from the city and her district wouldn't include the roadway, the stretch is part of her annual statewide Walk in My Shoes awareness walk from Key West to Tallahassee.

Lauren F. Book Boulevard would be an honorary designation, with signs erected with her name on them in the U.S. 1 median at Sunrise Boulevard for southbound traffic and at Northeast Second Street for northbound traffic.

They won't be campaign signs. They'll be a gift from dad.

Book's father, lobbyist Ron Book, sought the designation as a surprise for his daughter, who he said has "really become a symbol for what victims can become" in moving forward with their lives.

"It's about how she works to empower people," he said.

Ron Book said the road is close to the Nancy J. Cotterman Center for sexual assault treatment where his daughter received counseling and care. He said he started seeking the designation during last year's legislative session, before his daughter became a candidate for political office.

Before signs can be erected, Fort Lauderdale commissioners must pass a resolution supporting the naming. The resolution is on their Tuesday agenda.

The city's street-naming policy says honorees should be deceased, but that policy involves a street being dual-named and not for an honorary designation. The state has no requirement on who can be given an honorary designation, Ron Book said. or 954-356-4556

Copyright © 2015, Sun Sentinel

Mickey Dumberly
How much hubris is the local lobbying community filled with if they now think they can gift naming rights on Federal Highway between Broward Blvd and Sunrise Blvd to their 30 year old daughter. The biggest insult to Fort Lauderdale residents is that this lobbyist Ron Book is a paid lobbyist of the city of Fort Lauderdale, being paid to lobby Tallahassee for things we want, not things he wants for his daughter and her now political career. I will be sending a New Times article about Ron Book and daughter from February that details their history and accomplishments in the public sector. The crazy thing is the article explored the idea that Lauren and her father were attempting to parlay this career as a professional victim into a political career. Guess what, they were right. Lauren is now running for a State Senate seat. Hopefully Fort Lauderdale Mayor John P. “Jack” Seiler can see all the negative publicity and attention this egregious act of a rogue lobbyist will have during a public discussion and will just pull the shameful item from the agenda. I plan to be seguing from the dais into why Fort Lauderdale is paying someone with Ron Book’s white collar criminal history detailed in the New Times article to lobby Tallahassee for this city. Maybe “Jack” figures no one without a little dirt on them can be trusted up in Tallahassee, maybe he’s right, “Jack” would know.

With Deep Ties to Politicians, Private Prisons Have Exploded As Profit Centers

This article does not specifically mention the Book family, but the Books have taken lots of money from the GEO Group and even parties with the CEO. The GEO Group and Florida has a long history of corruption and scandal.

FRI, 6/12/2015 - BY MARY TURCK

Last month the state of Washington contracted with the GEO Group, one of the largest for-profit prison companies in the U.S., to move up to 1,000 inmates from the state’s overcrowded prisons to its correctional facility in Michigan, thousands of miles from their homes and families. This makes family visits and connection with the community harder, though studies show that inmates who receive more visits are less likely to re-offend after release.

Prisoners can’t vote in the United States and as a result they don’t have much sway over public policy decisions. But private, for-profit prison companies do, their voices amplified by big campaign contributions and millions spent on lobbying. Ahead of the 2016 presidential election, some of the candidates’ ties to the prison-industrial complex raise a lot of questions.

For example, the GEO Group has contributed heavily to campaigns of Florida senator and Republican contender Marco Rubio. And Republican candidate Jeb Bush’s support of for-profit prisons goes back to the 1990s, when he oversaw prison privatization as Florida governor.

Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton is calling for criminal justice reform, which would reduce profits for private prisons and reduce mass incarceration. The election offers voters a choice between candidates who support the current system that allows corporations to profit from the misery of the inmates and those committed to fundamental reform, which includes changing inflexible sentencing laws and ending the for-profit prison system.

Washington’s contract with the GEO Group is part of the boom in for-profit prisons, whose inmate population increased by 1,600 percent from 1980 to 2009. The privatization of prisons and prison services accelerated during former President Bill Clinton’s administration based on promises of cost savings and better treatment for inmates. For-profit prisons have delivered on neither.

Government-run prisons frequently fail in rehabilitation, in providing medical care and in protecting prisoners from abuse. But private prisons do worse. Poorly paid and inadequately trained guards make for-profit prisons dangerous for staff and prisoners alike. In a 2001 study, the National Council on Crime and Delinquency (NCCD) reported a higher incidence of assaults on prisoners by guards at private prisons than in state and federal prisons.

The U.S. Constitution prohibits cruel or unusual punishment of inmates. Increasingly, private prisons fail to meet even that minimal standard. One egregious example is the Bureau of Prisons’ contracts that require 10 percent of private prison beds to be set aside for solitary confinement. Because private prisons profit from keeping all beds full, this results in overuse and abuse of solitary confinement. This includes instances where immigrant mothers were punished with solitary confinement for protesting deplorable conditions at detention centers.

Other instances of cruel and inhuman punishment come from abusive guards, lacking training and supervision. A 2010 video from Idaho’s infamous “gladiator school” private prison shows guards watching one prisoner beat another unconscious and making no effort to intervene. In fact, reports show that the prison’s officials use “inmate-on-inmate violence to force prisoners to snitch on their cellmates.” A 2011 report by the American Civil Liberties Union on private prisons details horrifying cases of abuse, including instances where cells for juveniles that smelled of urine and feces, insect infestations, racial segregation, punishment for speaking Spanish and refusal of medical and mental health treatment.

Beyond turning prisons over to private companies, governments also contract out health care or food services or telephones or banking services in public prisons. Video conferencing visitation, now set up in many prisons, often comes at a high cost to families and prisoners. Privately run probation and parole services spark concerns about “profitmaking through collection of fees and fines from the offender, with little or no attention paid to an individual’s underlying issues such as substance use or unemployment,” according to a 2012 NCCD report.

The abuse and exploitation of prisoners doesn’t end there. U.S. prisoners often work for pennies making goods for profit. The Ella Baker Center, a non-profit organization working for racial and economic justice, characterizes prison labor as the new slave labor. In 2013 37 states contracted with private, for-profit companies for prison labor. Companies ranging from Starbucks to Victoria's Secret and Microsoft carry products made with prison labor.

Politicians have favored private prisons because they’re supposed to save taxpayer money. But they haven’t: Private prisons’ relatively cheaper operating cost has not translated into lower costs to taxpayers. For-profit prisons typically house less-serious offenders, who are less costly to maintain. Private prison employees receive less training, lower pay and benefits. Yet, the contract cost to state and federal government remains about the same as the per-prisoner cost of publicly operated prisons.

Private prisons do, however, generate corporate profits. A 2012 NCCD study found that private prisons remain highly profitable and growing, despite their failure to deliver on promises of cost savings and improved conditions for inmates. For example, CCA and the GEO Group, two of the corporations that dominate the private prison industry, post combined annual revenue of more than $3.3 billion.

CCA’s 2014 annual report warned shareholders that “relaxation of enforcement efforts, leniency in conviction or parole standards and sentencing practices” or changes in drug or immigration laws could adversely affect their profits. Unsurprisingly, the prison profiteers spend tens of millions of dollars on lobbying and on supporting the campaigns of “tough-on-crime” candidates. Harsh sentencing laws fill prison beds, generating profit for corporations. The most vulnerable people — young, poor, immigrants and people of color — make up a disproportionate number of those prisoners. Ultimately, profit is the worst possible motive for running prisons, or for making laws that govern crime and punishment.

- See more at:

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The names of Ron Book and Lauren Book will FOREVER be synonymous with the problem of homeless sex offenders in South Florida

There are lots of reasons why Lauren Book should not be trusted for public office and why Ron Book should have been fired from his position as head of the Miami-Dade Homeless Trust long ago. For almost a decade, the Book family has been synonymous with the international embarrassment that was the Julia Tuttle Causeway sex offender causeway camp. In fact, those living at the camp called the place "Bookville" after Ron and Lauren Book. [There is a lengthy and comprehensive look at this camp HERE.]

The population of Bookville increased as much as 150 before Ron Book had the place demolished in 2010. As head of the Miamo-Dade Homeless Trust, it was his responsibility to clean up the mess created by the controversial Lauren Book Child Safety Ordinance, which made roughly 99% of Miami-Dade off-limits to registered sex offenders. Ron Book never solved the problem. Instead, former Bookville residents have spent the past five years living a nomadic existence, from the Department of Corrections parking lot to Shorecrest to Allapattah to Hialeah

Florida Action Committee, a legal reformist group, recently reported the transient camp at 7100 NW 36th Court now has over 200 "residents." Feel free to go to the Florida Sex Offender registry yourself, enter 7100 NW 36th Court as the address, Miami as the City and 1/4 mile as the radius, and see for yourself. 

Despite how you feel personally about people listed on the public sex offender registry, consider the fact that Miami (and the entire state of Florida, for that matter) has become synonymous with sex offenders (like the cutscene from the Family Guy episode "Grumpy Old Man" where an entire block is "SOs"). 

If you are looking for someone to blame for all this, blame Ron and Lauren Book. They have made it their life's mission to make Miami a place full of homeless registrants. Ron Book uses his position as head of the Homeless Trust to push this homeless issue into other communities. As for Lauren Book, don't expect her senate bid to address much about issues other than sexual abuse. When asked about her political stance by the Miami New Times, Lauren's response was, "Political points? I want to be clear about one thing. I was raped every day for six years, and they were the six most horrible and horrific years of my life. I felt guilty, ashamed, invisible, bad, dirty, hurt, and afraid every single day from the time that I was 11 until I was 16... Children in every community on the planet are also enduring the pain I suffered. I am trying to turn my personal pain into something positive and hopefully prevent this from happening to others." I somehow doubt Lauren Book will be any better at representing the mostly good people of Ft. Lauderdale than Ron Book has been at running the Miami-Dade Homeless Camp. 

Ron Book and his daughter Lauren have made people all across the world think "sex offender" whenever they think of South Florida. Voting for Lauren Book will simply solidify that view. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Ron Book's Dade County Commissioner patsy Jose "Pepe" Diaz BUSTED for DUI

This is Jose "Pepe" Diaz, and for years, he has been Ron Book's go-to lackey on the Dade County Commission. In fact, he is credited with writing the controversial "Lauren Book Child Safety Ordinance," the 2500 foor residency restriction law that led to the Julia Tuttle Causeway sex offender colony, otherwise known as "Bookville." 

Actually, this is Pepe's MUGSHOT. You see, he was recently arrested for DUI. (HERE IS THE BODY CAM FOOTAGE if you want to see Pepe go full tilt, courtesy of the Miami Herald.) At this time there is no word if he will blame it on a brain tumor. In response Pepe said, "There goes my political career." We can only hope. 

Dade Commissioner 'Pepe' Diaz caught on camera: "There goes my political career"
Posted: Sep 20, 2015 10:10 AM EDT
Updated: Sep 22, 2015 11:14 AM EDT

MIAMI (WSVN) -- Dashcam video has been released showing the moment before Miami-Dade Commissioner Jose "Pepe" Diaz was arrested over the weekend after allegedly driving his motorcycle drunk in Key West.

Diaz, known to ride a motorcycle, was arrested Saturday night following the Key West Poker Run, a charity motorcycle event.

According to Key West Police, the commissioner was pulled over at around 7:45 p.m., on South Roosevelt Boulevard near Sea Side Drive, for going 74 mph in a 30 mph zone. Authorities said, during the traffic stop, Diaz failed to put his kickstand down, causing his Harley-Davidson motorcycle to fall to the ground. According to the police report, Diaz did not place his feet down on the ground to steady the motorcycle, causing him to fall over to his side. They also noticed that he had a slight slur, his eyes were bloodshot and watery. There was also a strong alcoholic odor from his breath. Police said that was when the DUI investigation began, and he was taken into custody.

Dashcam video showed Diaz as he attempted to walk a straight line, at times stumbling during the test. 

Key West Police bodycams and dashcams on the police car rolled throughout the traffic stop. According to the bodycams one Key West officer was wearing, when asked why Diaz was driving over the speed limit, Diaz apologized. "I'm Commissioner Diaz. I apologize," he said.

"You're who?" asked the officer

"Commissioner Diaz for Miami-Dade County," he responded, as he approached the officer.

"Stop right there."

That's when Diaz explained to police that he was trying to catch up to his friends. A few minutes later, he realized the severity of the stop and said, "There goes my political career."

"Sir," the officer said, "I don't make the decisions on whether you drink, you drive."

Diaz was asked to perform several sobriety tests and failed. He also refused a breathalyzer test. 

Commissioner Diaz appeared before a judge Sunday, and his bond was set at $1,000. 7News was the only station there as Diaz bonded out of the Monroe County Jail, just before noon Sunday, but he refused to comment.

Under legal council, he said he could not discuss any details following his arrest. He later released a statement Monday that reads, "Under advice of my legal counsel, I cannot discuss details at this time. However, I look forward to resolving this matter. In the meantime, I will continue to serve my community and the residents of District 12 as I have done for the last 24 years, and I humbly ask for your patience during this time."

Commissioner Diaz addressed the media from his home Monday evening. "Ladies and gentlemen, I'm sorry, once again. I am extremely sorry," he said. "This is a very difficult moment for me, for my family, for my friends, for my neighbors. Especially my neighbors that please, after this, let them come back to a normality of life. It's not been easy for them. I will tell you that I will follow the judicial system, as I believe in it, like I've always believed in it. I will go through this process like anybody else that's been in this situation."

7News requested information from the Governor's Office on what steps it might take following the charges. We were told that the legal team there are looking into this case.

Diaz has served on the commission since 2002 and was previously mayor of Sweetwater. The next commission meeting is Oct. 6.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Peter Schorsch is endorsing Lauren Book. Is the the guy you'd want endorsing you?

This is Peter Schorsch. Peter runs the "SaintPetersBlog," a Florida politically-focused blog. He is endorsing Lauren Book on his blog. Recently Peter published an article where he asked such "hard hitting" questions as:

So let’s ask the questions…

How will she keep a firewall between her two worlds? (i.e., as spokesperson for her charity and as someone running for office)

Can she be both a candidate and a foundation CEO?

And what about her salary?

And so we get this answer "State records show that as CEO of Lauren’s Kids, Lauren drew part of her salary from state dollars. Fine, there is absolutely not even a question about a CEO of a foundation drawing a salary. She was paid for work she was doing. But now that she is a candidate, Book says she will no longer derive any of her salary from state funding. Yes, you read that first here on Florida Politics.  Any funds that she draws down for her work with Lauren’s Kids will, going forward, come exclusively from private donations and not from tax dollars. 'This isn’t something we are required to do,' Book said, 'but it feels right and we are always going to bend over backwards to cross our Ts and dot our Is.'"

I guess we will have to see it to believe it. Most of Lauren's Kids money has come from taxpayer dollars, so to claim she will not derive a salary from the taxpayers is a bit ludicrous. Furthermore, we all know some of her "private funds" come from the for-profit GEO Group private prison. But I digress. 

At the least, Lauren Book should be screen her endorsements a little better. Lets look at Peter Schorsch's own record. 

Record cleared, consultant's back
A campaign consultant once banned from working in politics returns with a clean slate.

By JOSE CARDENAS, Times Staff Writer
Published September 9, 2007

Once a rising star in Tampa Bay area politics, Peter Schorsch appeared to be finished as a campaign consultant this spring.
In March, Schorsch pleaded no contest to two counts of grand theft and one count of scheming to defraud two candidates and the Greater Tarpon Springs Democratic Club.

Sentenced to house arrest, probation, community service and restitution, Schorsch was banned from working in politics while on probation. Soon he was accused of violating that, too.

But in a deal that wiped out his sentence, Schorsch last month was released from the conditions of his probation.

And he's back in business...

In 2006, Schorsch was charged with writing 16 worthless checks totalling more than $1,200 for cash at Publix. He pleaded guilty and was fined.

Schorsch told the Times that he wrote the checks to cover debts he incurred gambling on basketball games.

- - -

Then, in 2006, Schorsch was arrested on charges he stole nearly $10,000 from the Democratic club, and from Ed Helm and Eve Joy, who ran for mayor and a seat on the St. Petersburg City Council, respectively, in 2005.

Schorsch took their money and did no work.

After pleading no contest, he was sentenced to two years of house arrest and three years of probation, during which he was prohibited from working in campaigns.

He also was ordered to perform 100 hours of community service and pay restitution.

But Circuit Judge Joseph Bulone agreed to withhold a formal finding of guilt for Schorsch, who had no other felonies, which meant he would no have a record as convicted felon.

In August, Schorsch appeared at Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Court again: Authorities said he violated probation by not making restitution payments...

Prosecutors said they would forgive the house arrest portion of the sentence if Schorsch paid full restitution immediately instead of making payments over several years.

Even if Schorsch paid up, though, Assistant State Attorney Lalitha Alladi and Joy asked that Schorsch be kept on probation.

But Quesada offered to take Schorsch off of probation if he paid the restitution in full right away.

It was a way to encourage Schorsch to borrow money and pay the victims now rather than later, Quesada said...

"He's not a convicted felon," said Bartlett. But "I don't think he can avoid the fact that he has this on his record."

And that's not all of his trouble. Schorsch also still has not paid a $66,500 fine levied in 2006 by the Florida Elections Commission for unrelated election violations.

In Florida's power circles, politicos say dealing with well-connected blogger Peter Schorsch often comes down to the money.

Want to garner his favor or avoid his wrath? Buy an ad.

Want him to write a flattering story or remove a negative post he already wrote? Buy an ad.

According to five people active in politics, Schorsch, 37, has tried to pressure them for hundreds or thousands of dollars in exchange for good stories or the deletion of bad ones

Pinellas County Commissioner Janet Long and former state Rep. Frank Farkas are among those who say Schorsch tried to trade coverage for money. Three accusers provided documentation and one, Michael Pinson, offered a notarized contract signed by Schorsch.

Since the Tampa Bay Times started asking questions early this month, a 2½-year-old dormant criminal investigation into Schorsch based on some of these claims has been renewed, according to Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri...

The reinvigorated criminal inquiry into Schorsch stems from accusations made by Pinson, a Republican activist who over the last three years Schorsch has frequently criticized and mocked online. Pinson supplied a contract to the Times that Schorsch had presented him in May 2012. In it, Schorsch requested that Pinson pay him $3,200 in order for the blogger to delete all references to Pinson from his websites — and to write nothing more about him for the following three years.

The contract called for a $1,000 bonus if anything Schorsch wrote about Pinson didn't appear in the first 30 online search results.

The contract is notarized and signed by Schorsch. The Times met with the notary, who confirmed its legitimacy...

Pinson, who was mentioned for an open Pinellas congressional seat, said he didn't pay Schorsch, and the attacks continued. Just three months later, in a Twitter exchange with someone Schorsch seemed to believe Pinson knew, Schorsch said this: "Tell Michael I said hi. Just think for 5K he could've made all of this go away. Wait till u see 'The Douchebag Returns' story."

Schorsch acknowledged the tweet but said the recipient was "a fake Twitter account established to harass my family."


To sum it up:

  • Arrested in 2006 for writing 16 worthless checks totaling more than $1,200 for cash at Publix. He pleaded guilty and was fined. 
  • Arrested in 2006 on charges he stole nearly $10,000 from the Democratic club, and from Ed Helm and Eve Joy, who ran for mayor and a seat on the St. Petersburg City Council, respectively, in 2005.After pleading no contest, he was sentenced to two years of house arrest and three years of probation, during which he was prohibited from working in campaigns.
  • Still had not paid a $66,500 fine levied in 2006 by the Florida Elections Commission for unrelated election violations over a year after the conviction. 
  • Under a 2 1/2 year long investigation for writing hit pieces against those who do not pay him and accepting bribes for favorable reporting. 
Once again we find a convicted criminal with close ties to Lauren Book. I know Lauren can't help being tied to her father Ron (also a convicted criminal), but having close ties with this guy isn't going to help her cause. 

Friday, September 18, 2015

Florida gives $3.8 million to Lauren’s Kids charity after questionable poll on sex abuse

EVERY action of Lauren's Kids should be questioned, not just this one. This isn't the first time a supposed victims' rights group has been caught padding the stats.

JUNE 26, 2015 AT 9:40 AM
Florida gives $3.8 million to Lauren’s Kids charity after questionable poll on sex abuse

By Francisco Alvarado,

On June 4, Lauren’s Kids, released the results of an Internet poll it commissioned that found more than one-third of female respondents and one-fifth of male respondents had admitted to being sexually abused as children.

The survey’s results came in just as legislators reconvened for a special session to decide the 2015-2016 budget, which included a $3.8 million grant for the Aventura-based charity that specializes in child sex abuse prevention education.

Founded by Lauren Book, the daughter of prominent Tallahassee lobbyist Ronald Book, Lauren’s Kids got the funding, even escaping Gov. Rick Scott’s dreaded veto axe. But the trustworthiness of the online survey – a method national polling experts warn often results in unreliable, inaccurate public opinion data – can’t be verified.

Sachs Media Group, the Tallahassee public relations firm that was paid an undisclosed sum by Lauren’s Kids to conduct the poll, declined to provide detailed information about how individuals were selected to participate in the invitation-only survey. A Sachs senior executive also would not say how many people received invitations, and cited privacy considerations in declining to provide a list of the 1,033 participating Florida adults and their responses.

“We use industry standard balancing and targeting techniques to ensure randomness [of the participants],” said Karen Cyphers, Sachs Media Vice-President for Research and Policy. “The survey was fully online, no person-to-person interviews were conducted. Of those who clicked on the initial invitation to participate, the completion rate was just over 75 percent.”

Cyphers did provide with the list of poll questions that led to some of the alarming conclusions in the Lauren’s Kids survey.

For instance, the first question asked, “Were you sexually abused prior to age 18?” According to the document provided by Cyphers, 21 percent responded “yes.”

The participants who answered “no,” “not sure,” or “don’t want to say” were then shown a list of acts that constitute child sexual abuse that included being forced to expose themselves to grown-ups and being forced to watch adults have sex, Cyphers explained.

They were then asked, “After seeing a list of what constitutes child sexual abuse, were you sexually abused prior to age 18?” Nine percent of those who had answered “no,” “not sure,” or “don’t want to say” changed their answer to “yes,” according to the poll questions document.


Russell Renka, a retired political science professor at Southeastern Missouri University who wrote a 2010 research paper on what makes a good and bad poll, told the Lauren’s Kids survey is an advocacy poll being used to promote a specific viewpoint, which raises questions about accuracy.

Renka said professional pollsters, like the Pew Research Center, regularly publish backup data with survey results so that observers can independently evaluate the information. He noted Lauren’s Kids has only posted on its website selected highlights of the poll instead of the entire survey with the full set of questions and a full explanation of the methodology.

“You are counting on them to assure that the results are accurate,” Renka said. “That is a slippery slope.”

Click here to see the Research Methodology sheet provided by Sachs Media and its unit, Breakthrough Research, for the Lauren’s Kids survey.

Heather Gray, executive director of Lauren’s Kids, defended the nonprofit’s poll, saying Internet surveys have overtaken telephone methods in reaching a diverse, representative sample of respondents while producing reliably comparable results.

“Internet surveys reduce interviewer bias, enabling respondents to share personal or undesirable opinions without fear of judgment by another person,” Gray said. “This is important, particularly for a topic as sensitive as this one.”

However, even some of the nation’s most respected numbers crunchers caution about the use of Internet-based surveys.

In an early June post on his blog FiveThirtyEight, stats wunderkind Nate Silver said web polls are a big part of gauging public opinion, but that some pollsters are abandoning scientific principles when conducting them.

“It’s fundamentally challenging to ‘ping’ a random voter on the Internet in the same way that you might by giving her an unsolicited call on her phone,” Silver writes. “Many pollsters that do Internet surveys eschew the concept of the random sample, instead recruiting panels that they claim are representative of the population.”

Silver points out that online surveys grossly miscalculated the results in last year’s mid-term elections, Israel’s general election in March, and the Parliament elections in the United Kingdom last month.

“The foundation of opinion research has historically been the ability to draw a random sample of the population,” Silver writes. “That’s become much harder to do.”

Cliff Zukin, a former president of the American Association for Public Opinion Research, wrote in the June 20 New York Times Sunday Review that there are major problems with Internet polls.


“First is what pollsters call ‘coverage error,’” Zukin wrote. “Not everybody is reachable online.”

A professor at Rutgers University’s Eagleton Institute of Politics and Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, Zukin asserts that statisticians have not figured out how to draw a representative sample of Internet users.

“Almost all online election polling is done with nonprobability samples,” Zukin opines. “These are largely unproven methodologically…It is impossible to calculate a margin of error on such surveys.”

Also problematic are the conflicting interests involved when a company that conducts the survey, in this case Sachs Media, is paid to do so by another company with an interest in the outcome.

Cyphers insisted Sach’s Internet polls are scientifically sound. For the Lauren’s Kids poll, she said invitations were randomly sent to people who were identified as living in Florida. Those who responded that they resided out-of-state were dropped from the results.

Between 2011 and 2013, Lauren’s Kids paid Sachs a total of $1.6 million for producing webinars, program materials such as brochures, palm cards and a mobile app, and a 30-minute TV program that was aired on network affiliate television stations throughout Florida, among other media services.

The poll results came out at a crucial time for Lauren’s Kids, which has received nearly $7 million in state appropriations in previous years used to fund the non-profit’s programs that train kids, teachers, and child caretakers at the Pre-K to third grade level to recognize the signs of sexual abuse and report it to authorities.

With the $3.8 million Lauren’s Kids will receive this year, it plans to expand its curriculum at the fourth grade to high school level. During the teleconference with reporters on June 4, Lauren Book, who was sexually abused when she was a teen, said the Internet poll proved the reasons why her programs must continue.

“Clearly sexual abuse can happen in any family,” Book said, adding the poll “shines a light on how much work we have to do to report sexual abuse and to recognize the signs of sexual abuse.”

The appropriation for Lauren’s Kids was tucked in a $23.8 million pot for “school and instructional enhancements” that emerged unscathed when the governor finalized the budget earlier this week. Scott obliterated funding for 24 other special interest projects on the list, including $100,000 for youth summer job programs and $30,000 for a financial literacy pilot program in Broward County.

Gray said Lauren’s Kids was not given preferential treatment.

Rep. Erik Fresen, R-Miami, who sits on the appropriations committee, sponsored funding for Lauren’s Kids. Fresen did not respond to a request for comment, but Gray said he was required to submit the non-profit’s request before the entire committee for evaluation.

Gray said Lauren’s Kids was also vetted before the state senate appropriations committee.

“Chairman Don Gaetz [a Republican] and Vice Chairman Bill Montford [a Democrat] sent a joint letter to all organizations in the state budget who received funding in fiscal year 2014-15 and asked them to submit information for evaluation for fiscal year 2015-16,” Gray said. “We complied with the request and are pleased to have received bipartisan support from the committee upon completion of the submission and evaluation process.”

Conflict of interest shuts down lobbyist Ron Book’s work for bail industry

Ron Book has his crooked fingers in many aspects of the justice system.

Conflict of interest shuts down lobbyist Ron Book’s work for bail industry
MARCH 23, 2010 AT 5:12 AM
By Dan Christensen,

Flagged by Broward officials for a conflict of interest, county lobbyist Ron Book has agreed to stop pushing for a new state law that county officials say would seriously undermine Broward’s pretrial intervention program and cost local taxpayers millions.

The new law is being sought by another of Book’s clients, the Florida bail bond industry. It would restrict access to county-run pretrial release programs by establishing new, statewide eligibility requirements for defendants seeking to get out of jail, forcing the county to spend more in keeping inmates behind bars.

County support for the pretrial program has wavered over the years; nevertheless, critics say Book should not be involved in representing the bail bond industry on the issue.

Broward County pays Book $53,000 a year plus $2,000 in expenses to lobby in Tallahassee.

At Tuesday’s commission meeting, Commissioner Lois Wexler said that if passed the law would “decimate” local pretrial release programs and place huge financial burdens on counties across the state.

Wexler added that she wants her money’s worth from the lobbyist that many consider to be the most influential in Florida.

“I want Mr. Book on my team…I don’t want him neutral,” Wexler said.

 At Book’s urging, Broward commissioners passed an ordinance in January 2009 restricting access to the program run by the Broward Sheriff’s Office. The proposed change in state law would further tighten the bondsmen’s noose on the pretrial program.

“I guess the bail bond companies didn’t get richer or increase their bottom line enough by what we did a year and a half ago, so now they’re going in for the kill,” Wexler said in an interview.

“This bill makes money the determination of justice,” said Broward Public Defender Howard Finkelstein.

Book declared a “potential conflict” in a March 8 letter to the county after a county official told him the county opposed the pretrial measure. He asked the county to waive its conflict rules to “allow me to continue my representation of the bail industry.”

Those rules recognize the potential for conflict of interest in dual representation, but only when the Legislature is in session as it is now.

Broward has yet to rule on that request, but the matter may now be moot. On Friday, Book agreed honor the demand of another client, Miami-Dade County, which decided it did not want Book lobbying on the pretrial detention issue.

“I am in the process of extricating myself from the issue,” he said.

Wexler said Book may be disingenuous when he says he’ll stop lobbying the issue.

“The word on the street is that he’s already secured the votes for them so he can now afford to be neutral,” said Wexler.

Book may be out of the legislative game on the pretrial detention bill, but his sympathies were clear in a parting shot Monday at Finkelstein — his chief Broward antagonist.

“Public policy is on our side. And contrary to what Howard Finkelstein thinks, nobody died and left him in charge of what’s right and wrong in this world,” said Book.

This isn’t the first time Book’s work for the bail industry has put him at odds with his clients at county hall.

The January 2009 vote was accompanied by intense behind the scenes lobbying and public controversy. And 11 years ago, Book apologized when Broward commissioners asked him to explain why he had pushed a bill that would have weakened the county’s pretrial detention program and cost the county millions.

“Hopefully, you don’t make the same mistake again,” Commissioner Ilene Lieberman said at the time, according to The Miami Herald.

Book said Pete Antonacci of the GrayRobinson law firm will now lead the lobbying effort. Antonacci said the next hearing is Friday in Tallahassee at the House criminal and civil justice committee.

“We have very good support in the House and Senate,” Antonacci said.

The House and Senate are considering two versions of the proposed law, HB445 and SB782. The sponsors are two powerful Republicans – Lake Mary Rep. Chris Dorworth, Speaker of the House designate for 2014-2016, and St. Augustine Sen. John Thrasher, the new chairman of the Republican Party of Florida.

A staff analysis of the House bill reported pretrial program data collected from about a half-dozen counties, including Miami-Dade and Palm Beach.

Miami-Dade said approximately 55 percent of their current pretrial clients, nearly 7,300 people, would be ineligible based on the bill’s requirements. In Palm Beach, the rate of ineligibility would rise to 67 percent, or 3,400 people.

Broward was not included in that analysis. But at Tuesday’s hearing Wexler said 1,750 Broward defendants who now use the program would no longer qualify if the law passes.

A fiscal analysis sought to project how much it would cost to keep those extra people in jail for the average length of time it takes to get cases resolved in each county.

In Miami-Dade, where the per day cost to keep an inmate in jail is $134.27, that cost would be $1 million to $10 million depending on how many of those 7,300 extra inmates remained in jail until their cases were resolved. In Palm Beach, the range was $1.3 million to $12.8 million.

Those worrisome numbers are fueling opposition to the bill among the 28 counties that have pretrial programs.

But that’s a plus to Antonacci.

“In some ways it helps because I don’t think they have a particularly good track record in Tallahassee. Every time out they say the sky is falling and it doesn’t happen. People become a little numb,” he said.

Miami Herald: Politicians send millions to charity of lobbyist’s daughter

It pays (millions) to be the daughter of convicted criminal Ron Book.

 MAY 6, 2015
Politicians send millions to charity of lobbyist’s daughter


Over the last four years, Lauren’s Kids, a nonprofit founded by the daughter of top Tallahassee lobbyist Ron Book, has become one of the Legislature’s favorite charities, raking in nearly $7 million in taxpayer funds. If and when legislators reconvene to pass a budget, that total is slated to rise to $10.8 million.

The mission of Lauren’s Kids is to raise awareness about child sexual abuse. At the same time, however, Lauren’s Kids has cultivated a symbiotic relationship with important political figures in the Capitol, led by Gov. Rick Scott and Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera.

The politicians get feel-good publicity with photo ops. Lauren’s Kids gets state dollars, and plenty of them.

Legislative appropriation records show that of the 27 special-interest groups to be allocated funds from a $19 million pot earmarked this year for “school and instructional enhancements,” Lauren’s Kids will get the most, $3.8 million. More than two dozens youth organizations, including the Girl Scouts of Florida and the YMCA, are to receive less than $300,000 each.

Critics say Book’s political clout gives Lauren’s Kids an unfair advantage over hundreds of applicants vying for state discretionary funds.

“There are so many things this money could be used for,” said Vicky Henry, a national advocate against sexual offender registration laws. “Take some of that $3.8 million and give more to school districts or church and scout organizations.”

Lauren Book, chief executive of Lauren’s Kids, said her nonprofit is on the same playing field as others seeking state funds.

“I believe the process is highly competitive,” Book said in an email. “Projects receive intense scrutiny; first in budget subcommittees, then in full committees, on the floors of the chambers, and in joint budget conference committees. Following all of that, an appropriation is vetted by the governor’s staff, and must withstand the gubernatorial veto process.”

Book, who was sexually and physically abused by her nanny for six years starting at age 11, founded Lauren’s Kids in 2007. Her father, Ron Book — an attorney who counts the Miami Dolphins, the GEO Group prison company and dozens of cities and counties as clients — is the organization’s chairman. Last year, his firm collected $5 million in lobbying fees, state records show.


Grants aren’t the only way government helps fund Lauren’s Kids. Miami-Dade and Broward counties facilitate individual $1 donations by including a box for people to check on their car registration renewal forms. Lauren’s Kids also has its own state-approved specialty Florida license plate, from which it collects $25 from each sale, according to its website. Lauren’s Kids tax returns show that from 2011-2013 those $1 car registration renewal donations brought in more than $700,000. How much revenue has been generated by the specialty license tags, approved by the Legislature in 2013, was not available.

Lauren Book’s most publicized annual event is “Walk In My Shoes,” a 1,500-mile trek across Florida from Key West to the steps of the old state Capitol building. It’s also a favorite of elected officials.

Book completed her sixth walk on April 22. Joining her at the Capitol were dozens of child sex-abuse victims and their families, her father and a lineup of powerful Republicans and Democrats. They included Scott, Lopez-Cantera, Senate President Andy Gardiner, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and Sen. Bill Montford, a Tallahassee Democrat and vice chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Education.


Lauren Book, who has hinted at a run for office, formed a political action committee last September called Leadership For Broward that has collected $525,257, mostly from her father’s clients, including $100,000 from the Miami Dolphins.

Lauren’s Kids’ most recent tax returns show it received government grants of $486,116 in 2011, $1.6 million in 2012, and $1.1 million in 2013. Most of the combined $2.8 million was from the state.

The organization has yet to file its tax return for 2014, but Book confirmed previous media reports that Lauren’s Kids received $3.8 million from the Legislature last year.

The 29-year-old Book’s annual salary is on a similar upward trajectory, rising from nearly $68,000 in 2011 to $95,000 in 2013.

From 2011-13, Lauren’s Kids collected $1.4 million in private contributions, more than half coming from the $1 donations via car registration renewals. Hundreds of thousands of dollars in other revenue has come through special events and the sale from books, including Lauren Book’s self-published memoir, It’s Ok to Tell.

Book says the bulk of Lauren’s Kids revenue has been used to create and maintain an educational program called “Safer, Smarter Kids” that trains public school teachers and child caretakers throughout the state on how to identify signs of sexual child abuse and how to report cases to authorities.

Originally targeted to children in pre-kindergarten to third grade, the program has expanded to educate kids in fourth and fifth grades, as well as adolescents in middle and high school. To implement the program, Lauren’s Kids hired Tallahassee advertising firm Sachs Media Group, which was paid a total of $1.6 million between 2011 and 2013. Sachs produces webinars, program materials such as brochures, palm cards and a mobile app, and a 30-minute TV program that was aired on network affiliate television stations throughout Florida, among other media services.

Lauren’s Kids also paid $219,000 to the Monique Burr Foundation in Jacksonville for acting as a go-between with schools participating in the Safer, Smarter Kids program. It paid another $142,000 to the Florida Council Against Sexual Violence for staffing a crisis hotline and developing training materials and conducting training sessions for 15 school districts.

As a result of her organization’s educational program, tens of thousands of Florida children now know to report incidents of sexual abuse, Book said.

Florida Bulldog is a not-for-profit news organization created to provide investigative reporting in the public interest. Contributions are tax-deductible.

Ron Book bashes Miami commissioner for 'despicable' behavior on homeless issue

Ron Book, as head of the Miami-Dade Homeless Trust, certainly spends a lot of his time doing everything but actually helping the homeless. He should have stepped down years ago. This make's Ron's rant rather ironic.

Super-lobbyist Ron Book bashes Miami commissioner for 'despicable' behavior on homeless issue (W/AUDIO)

The fierce debate over Miami’s sleeping-mat program for the homeless turned personal on Friday, as Miami-Dade Homeless Trust chairman Ron Book lashed out at city leaders — singling out one commissioner in particular.

Book took aim at Miami City Commissioner Marc Sarnoff, who spearheaded the mat program. The two men have feuded over whether the county homeless agency should help fund 115 outdoor mats, which are part of a covered pavilion at the Camillus House shelter. Sarnoff says it’s only right that the county chip in; Book says outdoor mats encourage the homeless to stay on the street rather than seek social services, and his agency won’t fund something that’s counterproductive.

The mat program, started last year, runs out of money on Aug. 1.

On Friday, Book said Sarnoff has jumped into the homelessness issue without truly understanding it. And the city of Miami, he said, can’t be trusted.

“They’re never OK, they’re never satisfied, because Marc Sarnoff wants to be nothing but right, and he’s wrong about this, he’s wrong about it,” said Book, who in addition to leading the Homeless Trust is also one of Florida’s most powerful lobbyists.

Book’s angry comments, with his arm repeatedly banging on the table, came during a sit-down meeting with Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez. The meeting, which was open to the public, was an attempt by Gimenez to broker a deal on the outdoor mat issue.

As Book ripped into Sarnoff — who wasn’t in attendance — Gimenez tried to calm him.

“He thinks he’s right, you think you’re right,” the mayor said.

“He’s no expert!” responded Book, his voice raised. “He parachutes in, he hasn’t done any research, he hasn’t gone to conferences, he doesn’t care, ’cause he wants to be right. ... His behavior is despicable.”


Ron Book should have stepped down long ago as head of the Miami Homeless Trust after he created the Julia Tuttle Causeway Sex Offender Camp, aka Bookville. The poop map should have the largest poop icon right over Ron Book's corporate office.


FRIDAY, MAY 15, 2015

A nasty dispute over the public-toilet needs of Miami's homeless population — and the question of who should pay for them — ramped up again yesterday. The Downtown Development Authority (DDA), the agency in charge of promoting Miami business, unveiled new evidence in its battle with another agency, the Homeless Trust, and its chairman, Ron Book, over public toilets: A "poop map." 

The map shows, with smiling brown emoticons, the locations throughout downtown Miami of 55 specimens of human feces that were catalogued within one recent eight-hour period. The highest concentration was found in the downtown core, around the intersections between Flagler Street and NE First Street with NE Second Avenue. There was also a cluster of the little brown guys in west downtown, at NW First Street and NW First Avenue.

As the Miami Herald points out, the release of the map was timed to coincide with a county commission vote on funding of a Camillus House shelter program; county commissioners later directed Book to study new programs. The move came after months of very public — and increasingly personal — squabbling between the two agencies over the issue of funding for downtown toilets.

In a statement yesterday, DDA executive director Alyce Robertson praised her agency's initiative on downtown homelessness and criticized the Homeless Trust, saying the agency "has resorted to passing the buck and ignoring the problem." In one email copied to city media outlets, Jose Goyanes, a board member of the DDA, said Book was "running the Trust like a third world dictator."

Earlier this week, incensed that Book opposed Homeless Trust funding for a $100,000 public-toilet pilot program, Goyanes also released a YouTube video with dozens of images of feces and urine. "This is a health crisis," Goyanes wrote in the email containing the video he sent to reporters. "And Ron Book, Victoria Mallette & The Miami Dade Homeless Trust with their $55 Million Dollar Budget won't do anything about it."

Book later told New Times he refused to even look at the video. “I'm sick of the personal attacks," he said, furious, after yesterday's meeting, the Herald reported. "Let someone else chair the thing."

But the megalobbyist later said he was caught up in the heat of the moment and isn't going anywhere.

"I will not be giving up my chairmanship or my seat on the board," he tells New Times. "They’ll have to carry me out first. I am not going to let these folks drive me out just so they can be right and get their way."

As for the homeless, any solution that would lead to more public-toilet options looks unlikely in the short term. Expect that poop map to expand.

Book replied to New Times' request for comment with the following response:

"I chose not to look at Mr. Goyanes’ video. Mr. Goyanes seems to believe that the Homeless Trust is responsible for anything and everything involving homeless individuals, and he is simply mistaken. We are not going to be putting toilets or showers in downtown Miami, which we believe serves to deter getting the chronic homeless, off the streets. We’ve looked at this several times over the last 10 to 12 years and we are just not doing it."

Still, while the Trust has reduced homeless over time to about 4,000 in Miami, there remain about 1,000 on the streets, with some 600 living in Miami boundaries. And while Book has dug in his heels, so too have Miami officials. James Bernat, the city’s police coordinator, staunchly defends the program, and Commissioner and DDA Chairman Marc Sarnoff is one of Camillus House’s biggest boosters and fundraisers.

“Where do 600 people go to the bathroom everyday? Well there’s a map to show you where 600 people go to the bathroom everyday,” said Sarnoff, who displayed the DDA’s map on television. “This is a countywide issue, as you’ll see.”


Methinks the apple hasn't fallen that far from the tree.



As she climbed the hill leading to Florida's State Capitol last spring, Lauren Book broke from a walk into a run. The 29-year-old blond with a pink ribbon wrapped around her ponytail raised both arms in triumph and flashed a huge smile as she crossed the finish line of the Walk in My Shoes charity event. Her father, Ron Book, perhaps the most influential lobbyist in Florida, trotted beside her in running shorts.

Lauren had walked 1,500 miles, having started in Key West 42 days earlier on a mission to bring attention to childhood sexual abuse. When she trekked through South Florida, Miami Heat Coach Erik Spoelstra called her an "angel." When she was in Orlando, abuse survivors fought back tears as they joined her. During a postwalk news conference on the Capitol steps, Fort Walton Beach Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz bragged about freshly passed legal reforms that would crack down on sex offenders -- ideas "that were on Lauren's mind, that ended up on my legal pad, that are now in the laws of Florida." When it was Gov. Rick Scott's turn to speak, he called them laws "I had the honor to sign."

A year later, Nancy Smith, executive editor of the Sunshine State News, which covers Florida politics, remembers the spectacle. "Cabinet members don't get that kind of coverage, that kind of interest... I don't understand how in four or five years, one person gets to this level with a charity."

One reason: Lauren suffered horrific sexual abuse at the hands of her nanny during her teens. She parlayed her pain into advocacy by founding a nonprofit called Lauren's Kids that has brought much attention to the issue and achieved national press, including an appearance by Lauren on Katie Couric's show.

But this past November, she founded a political committee, suggesting to many -- including the Tampa Bay Times and Miami Herald -- that she's exploring a 2016 run for office. Speculation is that she's eyeing a state Senate seat, Florida's 33rd District -- which includes Davie, Plantation, Hollywood, Hallandale Beach, Miramar, Pembroke Pines, and Dania Beach. Incumbent Eleanor Sobel has served since 2008 and is reaching her term limit. So far, the committee has raised more than $400,000, as much as many active candidates garner in an entire election cycle.

"I have not made that decision," Lauren, now age 30, says via email. Despite requests over two weeks for an interview, she said she was too busy to sit down with New Times. The potential of her candidacy has at least three insiders contacted by this newspaper bristling. Already, the insiders allege, businesses and politicians funnel money to Lauren's Kids to gain points with her father's powerful political machine. It's no surprise that such an ambitious young woman would seek office, they say, but it's worth critiquing the forces that are propelling her.

"Any big corporation that needs good press can make a donation to curry favor with [Ron Book]," says Nancy Smith, the Sunshine State News editor. Companies donate "so that he will represent them at some point, so that he won't go against one of their projects."

"Nonsense," says Ron Book. Any allegations of quid pro quo are "outlandish -- and completely false -- claims."

"Political points?" Lauren asked incredulously. "I want to be clear about one thing. I was raped every day for six years, and they were the six most horrible and horrific years of my life. I felt guilty, ashamed, invisible, bad, dirty, hurt, and afraid every single day from the time that I was 11 until I was 16... Children in every community on the planet are also enduring the pain I suffered. I am trying to turn my personal pain into something positive and hopefully prevent this from happening to others."

Ron Book has represented some of Florida's richest companies -- the Miami Dolphins, AutoNation, and the GEO Group among them -- as well as scores of cities and towns. He also helps raise millions for candidates seeking office. His firm earned $5.6 million in fees in 2013. This, he has said, is because he's effective as hell. He works from 6:15 a.m. until 8 or 9 at night and jets between South Florida and Tallahassee more than most people go to the corner store. He has been described as both charming and dogged.

But his zeal has sometimes brought trouble: In late 1985, he came under investigation for allegedly helping to bribe an Opa-locka politician. The next year, he pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor in an insurance-fraud case. In the mid-1990s, he pleaded guilty to four misdemeanors after funneling more than $30,000 in illegal campaign contributions to politicians.

In her 2011 memoir, It's OK to Tell, Lauren explains that her father was frequently away on business and her mother in the throes of mental illness when she was young. So, beginning in 1997, Lauren, then a preteen, and her two younger siblings were left in the care of 30-year-old Waldina Flores. Lauren was shocked one night when Flores stuck her tongue in her mouth. Lauren, who had never even kissed a boy her own age, was confused and ashamed and accepted Flores' explanation that it was a sign of love.

The abuse escalated to sexual contact. Flores threatened that Ron Book's career would be tarnished if Lauren was outed as a "lezzy." When, at age 16, Book developed an age-appropriate relationship with a boy, Kris Lim, Flores retaliated by sodomizing her with a fork, she writes. Lim discovered the abuse and encouraged Lauren to tell. The nanny fled but was eventually caught, convicted of sexual battery and lewd and lascivious behavior, and sentenced to 15 years.

Lauren at 17 endured the additional trauma of testifying and having her name splashed in the news. The psychological toll was deep: Feeling guilty after seeing her former nanny in court, she wrote letters to Flores, who defied a judge's instructions and wrote back, earning ten more years tacked onto her sentence.

In 2004, Lauren would advocate for -- and the Legislature would pass -- the Lauren Book Protection Act, making it a felony for offenders to contact their victims.

Lauren married Lim, who had become a pro golfer, in 2008. It was a million-dollar affair that was filmed for a reality TV show, Platinum Weddings, and described in ads thusly: "Daddy's Princess gets every wedding wish she ever desired." The couple divorced in 2010. In her book, Lauren says Lim had "an affair with the roommate of one of my closest girlfriends... another betrayal."

Lauren went on to become the public face of childhood sex abuse. She founded Lauren's Kids in 2007. The charity has three prongs: education, awareness, and advocacy. She organized her annual walk, sent out millions of fliers, and partnered with the state on a campaign to teach adults the signs of abuse. She wrote a children's book called Lauren's Kingdom; her face was plastered on billboards across the state.

Lauren even designed an abuse prevention curriculum that will be implemented in all public kindergartens and some higher grades. At the end of January, Lauren led a teacher training in Tallahassee.

Ron Book serves as president of Lauren's Kids. As he announced at the Capitol last year, "I advocate for changes in laws, I advocate for funding, knowing full well that I can't really fix what happened to Lauren."

Lauren's Kids' nonprofit tax forms indicate that Ron Book spends 25 hours a week on the charity but does not draw a salary. He does not list Lauren's Kids as a client on lobbying disclosure forms, but he has been perhaps the state's most aggressive advocate for anti-sex-offender laws. Most famously, he pushed for legislation that restricted where registered offenders could live; in Miami, this inadvertently led to a colony of offenders collecting under the Julia Tuttle Causeway.

Tax forms reveal how rapidly Lauren's Kids has grown. In 2007, gifts and grants were just $1,500. In 2012, that number was up to $2.5 million -- with $1.6 million coming from government grants. In 2009, Lauren, the vice president, was paid $14,000; in 2012, she made $85,250 as CEO.

Documents also show how the organization raises and spends its funds. A 2012 golf tournament had gross receipts of $224,605 but expenses of $192,998. The walk that year raised $396,015; expenses were $171,104. Lauren's Kids paid Ron Sachs, a communications firm that reps political insiders, $670,032. Sachs' firm won an Addy award for its design of a billboard that shows Lauren against a purple backdrop. "Lauren Book," it says. "Survivor. Educator. Advocate."

In the final days of the 2011 legislative session, Lauren's Kids was denied $3 million it had requested for a program but was then awarded $1.5 million that neither of the Books had requested. In 2014, an appropriations bill granted Lauren's Kids $3.8 million, far more than any of the 50-odd other similar beneficiaries; most received $100,000 to $500,000.

To some in Tallahassee, this is alarming. It amounts to taxpayers subsidizing publicity for Lauren, they say, which would come in handy if she were to run. "All they do is put Lauren's name and face on billboards," says one insider who has spent decades in Tallahassee. If elected, companies could hire her father and expect her vote in return.

Lauren insists that no billboards are funded with tax dollars and points to several Florida legislators who are related to lobbyists. If elected, she'd seek legal counsel on how to avoid any conflicts of interest. But she insists speculation is premature.

In 2010, Lauren considered candidacy for the Broward School Board but then opted not to run, saying, "I feel we can push the foundation into more of a nationwide presence over the next two years" but adding, "I will be looking at other offices."

This past November, Lauren opened a political committee called Leadership for Broward. It had raised $423,750 at last report -- much of that from Ron Book's past and present clients. The Miami Dolphins are the biggest donors, with $100,000. AutoNation gave ten grand; the GEO Group, a corrections provider, $25,000.

David L. Thompson, vice president of public policy for the National Council of Nonprofits, said any charitable nonprofit leader running for public elected office should consider stepping down from the nonprofit post to avoid the appearance of partisanship. "I guarantee that if Jerry Lewis was to run for office, his campaign materials would be amended to say 'formerly president of Jerry's Kids.' " He stated that the question of whether a nonprofit's existing advertisements could be considered improper, would have to be resolved by the IRS.

But unless someone were to lodge a formal complaint or a challenger were to arise, the younger Book is probably a shoo-in. Lauren, who lives in a $400,000 house in Plantation, doesn't have to file qualifying papers until June 2016 but has already scared off potential candidates seeking the Senate post, which currently pays $29, 697 annually.

Steve Geller, who served 20 years in the Legislature, was considering running for the District 33 seat but now says he won't bother. Lauren, he says, "is a very formidable candidate" who has "virtually unlimited funds -- in a primary. I don't know any people who'd want to run against millions in a primary." Even the best candidates could expect to raise only half a million, he says -- a figure Lauren has nearly met. "I think Lauren will have whatever it takes to win, whether it takes 2, 3, or 4 million dollars."

Lauren said she wished critics "would speak directly to me so I can show them the amazing work we are doing on behalf of children."

But the only people who seem willing to confront her are members of groups like Missouri-based Women Against the Registry, whose leader, Vicki Henry, says the backlash against sex offenders "has gone too far." She says that laws like the ones Lauren has pushed for prevent offenders from ever getting jobs or being productive members of society and that such demonization unfairly hurts their family members.

When Lauren busts into Tallahassee on April 22 during this year's Walk in My Shoes event, Henry and her cohorts intend to be near the finish line, protesting with signs. They'll probably be the only ones.