Article Courtesy of
By Andrew Colton
Published January 18, 2021
DELRAY BEACH — The Florida Department of Business and Professional
Regulation tells BocaNewsNow.com that the recent board election in the high
profile community of “Seven Bridges” can be contested after allegations of
impropriety became public through our exclusive reporting.
“HOA elections must be conducted in accordance with Section 720.306 and the
procedures set forth in the governing documents of the association,” wrote
DBPR Spokesman Pat Fargason. “The Department’s arbitration unit has
jurisdiction over HOA election disputes.”
As BocaNewsNow.com first reported on December 23rd, Seven Bridges Board
President and candidate Larry Orbach accessed a secure online voting system
while the election was taking place over several days. He allegedly shared
information about vote tallies with candidates he supported. He also,
allegedly, targeted homeowners who hadn’t voted by visiting them personally
to seek their vote. That information was not available to other candidates.
When Campbell Property Management’s onsite manager — Heidi Womack — learned
of the breach, she called a secret meeting with all of the candidates in
which she instructed them to keep the breach private.
Emails obtained by BocaNewsNow.com, and first revealed in our December 23rd
report, showed that the secret Zoom meeting took place on Sunday, December
13th. Candidates called on Orbach to resign and drop out of the race, which
he did. But neither Womack, nor any of the candidates, made Orbach’s actions
or resignation public until minutes before vote counting began on December
15th — a full two days later. In a short email, Womack announced Orbach had
resigned and dropped out of the race.
The issue: anyone in the 800 home community who voted for the well-liked
Orbach ended up casting a meaningless vote. Womack and the candidates all
knew that there was an issue at least two days earlier, providing ample time
for votes to be recast for other candidates. But by covering up that
information, potentially hundreds of votes were disenfranchised — raising
serious questions about the legitimacy of the election.
In an email from one candidate to Womack, it became clear that legitimizing
the election wasn’t a concern. Controlling the narrative about Orbach’s
“I agree that this letter from Larry removing himself should occur prior to
the vote,” wrote a candidate. “I realize the difficulty of the position.
However sending the letter now allows more leeway in explanation. As time
goes by the narrative becomes more difficult.”
While seemingly something from a movie satirizing Florida, HOA elections are
no joke. Boards in high value communities often oversee budgets in the
millions of dollars and must comply with federal and state regulations.
With candidates in an impossible position — anyone who contested the
election while it was underway would appear to channeling a disgruntled
President Trump — it became Campbell Property Management’s responsibility to
take action. Community Managers are licensed by the State of Florida.
Licenses are subject to review and revocation.
Campbell Property Management CEO John Tight, VP of Sales William B.
Campbell, III, and COO Dan Tiernan didn’t respond to our requests for
comment on the company’s position on the election and the actions taken — or
not taken — by its employee.
Neither Womack nor Orbach responded to a request for comment.
Property Management Is Big Business
Property management is big business in Florida, with annual contracts
running in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. And Campbell Property
Management lists landscaper “Complete Property Maintenance” as its sister
company. That company provides landscaping services to Seven Bridges.
Landscaping contracts, generally speaking, could run $1,000,000 or more in
South Florida’s large communities. Any appearance that Campbell oversaw a
tainted election could potentially cost the company a significant contract
if board members blamed Campbell for mismanaging the election and voted the
But the new board, seemingly acting in cahoots with Campbell, said nothing
about the election impropriety even after the election, until
BocaNewsNow.com’s report. That generated an unsigned email from “the new
board” nearly twelve hours after our article first posted, authenticating
our reporting although claiming that it meant nothing. Ironically, the email
listed several items the new board was already managing. Homeowners
contacting BocaNewsNow.com report no work sessions were publicly announced,
raising questions about when the “new board” met.
Whether the election is officially contested remains to be seen. Several
homeowners tell BocaNewsNow.com that they may ask the Department of Business
and Professional Regulation to get involved, if for no other reason than to
legitimize the election so there is no cloud of distrust hanging over the
new board of directors. Mediation could lead to a new election, determine
that the current election was fair, or create another viable solution.
The HOA is in the midst of defending a federal lawsuit filed by a homeowner
claiming discrimination. A federal judge refused to dismiss the case earlier
BocaNewsNow.com asked each of the new board members if they planned to ask
for a new election to eliminate the stigma surrounding the December 15th
vote, but Marc Bender, Attorney Justin Hertzberg, Arleen Goldenberg, Aliya
Unger and Jack Kaye did not respond.
The silence may be short lived. Any action by the State would fall under F.S.
119, otherwise known as Florida’s Sunshine Act.