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April Griffin gets campaign boost from PAC

The PAC set up by her husband is being funded mainly by a New York-based political committee that isn’t reporting its money sources.
April Griffin.
April Griffin.
Published Aug. 6, 2020

A PAC set up by Brian Griffin to boost the tax collector campaign of his wife April Griffin is being funded mainly by a New York-based political committee that isn’t reporting its money sources, and by the owners of a South Florida auto title and tag agency that once sued Tax Collector Doug Belden after being denied a contract.

One of those owners, Ken Strochak, was named in the 2004 corruption trial of a Coral Springs union boss in allegations that he paid off the union official.

April Griffin has previously denied any knowledge of the operations of the Good Government for the People PAC that her husband recently set up. Neither responded to voicemail, text and email messages seeking comment on its funding.

The PAC has sent out at least two mailers attacking Democratic primary opponent Nancy Millan, a protégé of Belden. The Aug. 18 primary is likely to decide the race.

Of the $80,250 raised by Griffin’s PAC through July 24, at least $46,000 came from corporations owned by members of the Strochak family or by their employees or business associates.

Another $22,500 came from a New York political committee called Lets Move America Forward, and most of the rest came from Griffin.

As of June 30, the cutoff date for Lets Move America’s last finance report, it had not reported receiving any revenue since October 2018, when it accepted a $100,000 contribution without disclosing the donor — even though elections expert Nancy Watkins said it was required to do so.

In the past, Lets Move America has given frequently to Florida political committees, mostly Democratic-oriented. But since 2018, it has reported only one contribution, $100,000 in February 2019 to a Tallahassee-based nonprofit involving a group of Tallahassee political operatives.

Strochak and his son Jason are proprietors of a statewide chain of auto tag and title processing firms based in South Florida.

A government agent testified in the trial of Broward County union leader Walter Browne that Strochak, whose employees were potential union members, had paid off the union leader to the tune of $145,000, according to newspaper reports at the time. Browne was sentenced to 70 months for racketeering.

In 2003, Strochak and his son sued Belden after they lost a bid to do title and vehicle registration work.

They alleged the bid was rigged, which Belden denied, according to Tampa Bay Times reports at the time. The case eventually turned on whether Belden should have offered bidders an appeal process; the court sided with Belden.

In 2008 while the case was still being appealed, the Strochaks, their associates and companies heavily funded the campaign of Belden challenger Beverly Harris. Individuals and companies from the Fort Lauderdale area, including several of those now contributing to Griffin’s PAC, provided most of Harris’ $19,769 campaign fund.

The Strochaks, several of the Good Government donors and a representative of Lets Move America Forward couldn’t be reached or didn’t respond to email, social media and voice mail messages over the past week.

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