The Broward School District now has its own Ken Starr-like report chronicling the sexcapades of an elected official.
Teachers, principals, and administrators who work for the school district are abuzz about the steamy read behind the dully titled "Florida Department of Law Enforcement Investigative Report," released this week.
Elements of the agency's lengthy criminal probe include highly detailed information about the romantic life of Jennifer Gottlieb – then a School Board member and chairwoman — and wife of a local judge.
According to the report, in the summer of 2007, while helping to run one of the nation's largest school districts, Gottlieb was briefly involved with a married Citigroup financier who was vying for bond work from the school district.
Months later, after the affair with Richard W. Patterson ended, Gottlieb took up with his colleague, another Florida Citigroup executive also seeking money-making deals with the School Board, according to FDLE.
The pair had a three-year relationship and were "in love like two high school kids," the man, Michael H. Baldwin, tearfully told investigators in a January 2011 interview.
Release of the investigative reports – which resulted in no criminal charges against Gottlieb or the bankers – comes after years of explosive news about gross mismanagement and corruption in the Broward school system.
A special statewide grand jury in February 2011 concluded that if it had the power it would abolish the School Board, so grave were the "malfeasance, misfeasance and nonfeasance" it uncovered by Board members and senior managers alike.
The grand jury found that some board members directed contracts to friends and acquaintances, pushed unnecessary building projects, and schemed to get the children of friends and family into specific schools.
In 2010, former School Board member Beverly Gallagher plead guilty to one count of bribery after admitting taking payoffs from undercover FBI agents posing as businessmen seeking school construction contracts. She is currently serving three years in prison.
Another one-time School Board member, Stephanie Kraft, is awaiting trial. She's accused of accepting money in return for helping developers win a $500,000 break on fees they owed the school district.
Still more School Board members, the superintendent and other top administrators quit or retired during the FDLE investigation or after the release of the grand jury report, including Gottlieb, who abruptly resigned in August 2011.
Her husband, Broward County Court Judge Ken Gottlieb, filed for divorce in June of this year. The case is pending.
Documents released this week by FDLE include interview summaries and investigative findings provided to the grand jury for use in its public corruption probe. FDLE focused its inquiry largely on the district's rapid construction of new school buildings, which at times sidestepped safety and spending controls.
Of particular interest to FDLE were possible voting conflicts between School Board members and people doing business with the district.
Tens of millions of dollars in bond work awarded by the district was spread among four firms — J.P. Morgan, Morgan Stanley, Citigroup and Bank of America — with the deals parceled out in a rotation order settled by picking names out of a hat, FDLE discovered.
The first name picked got the first transaction. Followed by the second name, and so on.
Gottlieb's close relationships with the Citibank executives were flagged by FDLE for their "perceived impropriety." But Gottlieb appeared not to have fallen afoul of the law's constraints because she took no money or gifts in return for votes involving Citigroup. In one case, Gottlieb, then School Board chair, was not present for a vote and in another case she voted unanimously with her colleagues without debate, the report states.
Florida law bars elected officials from voting on matters affecting the livelihoods of themselves, spouses or family members, but does not cover relationships with third parties, no matter how intimate.
Like the report by special prosecutor Ken Starr, which chronicled President Bill Clinton's rendezvous with Monica Lewinsky, the FDLE report exposed details of Gottlieb's private life, including meetings for hotel sex, hotel lunches and hotel dinners.
Gottleib, now a private citizen, could not be reached for comment by the Sun Sentinel despite phone messages left at her residence and at her lawyer's office.
According to the FDLE, there were secret phone calls, secret texting, and secret e-mails with endearments written in code, such as "tou" for thinking of you.
Mixed in with the passion, there were also an apparent betrayal, a reported case of jealousy and mundane, practical concerns, such as winning reelection to the School Board, FDLE said.
Patterson, speaking under oath, told investigators that he and Gottlieb began their affair in July or August of 2007, and met for sex at the Westin Diplomat Resort & Spa in Hollywood.
"They had lunch and/or dinner at the hotel restaurant, but did not order room service," the report states. "They went to lunch at various restaurants located on Las Olas Blvd. and would consume one or two glasses of wine together."
At some point, emails Patterson sent to Gottlieb on her personal account were hacked, possibly by a spurned lover of Gottlieb's inside the Broward School District. The emails were sent to her husband and to Gallagher, who was thought to be "jealous of Gottlieb and the attention she got from vendors," according to the FDLE.
Patterson's liaison with Gottlieb ended in September 2007 after she informed her campaign manager of the affair and was advised against pursuing the relationship if she had hopes of furthering her political career, the report states.
By December of that year, Gottlieb was sexually involved with Baldwin, Patterson's colleague at Citigroup.
Their romantic entanglement began during a Florida School Boards Association conference in Tampa.
The couple talked three or four times a day and purchased prepaid cell phones to avoid detection by their spouses, FDLE found.
During a 2009 School Board meeting, Gottlieb texted Baldwin from her seat on the dais, updating him on the timeframe for a bond-related vote.
Investigators questioned Baldwin and Patterson repeatedly about who paid for hotel rooms, meals and trips, but could not establish that Gottlieb had violated Florida law.
"Baldwin stated he and Gottlieb had open discussions about public officials receiving gifts from vendors and she made it clear that she could not accept any gifts from Baldwin," the report states.
Sun Sentinel researcher Barbara Hijek contributed to this report.
email@example.com or 954-356-4518.