By Dan Christensen, BrowardBulldog.org
Broward Health Commissioner Kimberly Kisslan resigned Friday – two days after BrowardBulldog.org reported how she’d testified under a grant of immunity to the federal grand jury that investigated disgraced sheriff Ken Jenne.
Kisslan, who quit amid an inquiry by Gov. Rick Scott’s office, did not explain her decision in a resignation letter released Friday evening.
“I am tendering my resignation from the Board of Commissioners of the North Broward Hospital District, effective immediately,” Kisslan wrote.
The governor appointed Kisslan to a four-year term on the governing board of Broward Health only three months ago. Scott didn’t know then of Kisslan’s role in Jenne’s criminal scheme and her immunized testimony amid the federal corruption investigation that gripped Broward in 2007.
“We were not aware of this information when we announced the appointment,” said John Tupps, a spokesman for the governor. He did not respond to a further request to explain why a background check did not reveal this information.
Broward Health, whose legal name is the North Broward Hospital District, is among the largest tax-supported public health systems in the nation. Kisslan’s departure leaves just four of the board’s seven seats occupied.
Kisslan, the city attorney in Sunrise, was the sheriff’s legal counsel under Jenne. She represented the Broward Sheriff’s Office, but also did personal work for Jenne that landed her before the grand jury.
The work involved helping Jenne to coordinate the demolition of a home with code compliance issues that the sheriff owned in Lake Worth. Kisslan teamed with Philip Procacci, a Broward Sheriff’s Office vendor Jenne had asked for assistance, to make it happen, court papers say.
Procacci, a developer who leased office space to the sheriff’s office, ultimately paid $8,130 to demolish Jenne’s house. Jenne never repaid the money and ultimately pleaded guilty to a number of charges that included not reporting the payment on his behalf on his federal income tax return. He immediately left office.
Kisslan and Procacci appeared before the Lake Worth Code Enforcement Code Board as Jenne’s representatives on June 28, 2001. Kisslan later wrote Jenne a memo about what occurred, but “deliberately chose not to put the memorandum on BSO letterhead because she recognized that she was doing work not for BSO but rather for Jenne personally,” court papers say.
While the demolition was being arranged, Procacci also was negotiating an amendment to an existing BSO lease for a building in Plantation. Two days after Kisslan and Procacci’s appearance in Lake Worth Jenne signed a deal with Procacci that committed BSO to lease an additional 5,000 square feet of space for five years at an added cost to BSO of $348,000.
Kisslan was “the attorney who negotiated the lease extension and signed the extension as a witness,” says the factual statement signed by prosecutors, Jenne and his lawyers.
The sheriff’s counsel works for the sheriff in his official capacity, not for the sheriff personally. Yet records show Kisslan worked with Procacci to obtain the demolition for Jenne while knowing the sheriff was handing Procacci a valuable BSO lease extension.
Kisslan did not respond to several requests for comment.
Candidates for gubernatorial appointments complete a seven-page questionnaire in which they are asked to discuss their qualifications and provide references. They are also asked to declare whether they’d ever been arrested, charged or indicted or had a probable cause finding that they’d violated Florida’s Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees.
Kisslan answered “no” to the two latter questions about possible past problems. Her references were Fort Lauderdale lawyer Edward A. Dion, a former county attorney who was her boss at BSO; Broward Circuit Judge Elijah H. Williams and retired Broward Circuit Judge Robert A. Rosenberg.
A graduate of South Broward High School who obtained her law degree from the University of Florida in 1991, Kisslan worked for Jenne’s law firm, Conrad, Scherer & Jenne, until not long after Jenne became sheriff in 1998 and hired her to work at BSO.
Kisslan stayed 10 years. She left in July 2008 to go to work for the Law Office of Stuart R. Michelson. Michelson, the husband of then-County Commissioner Ilene Lieberman, had just been awarded a controversial, no-bid contract to be Sunrise City Attorney. Kisslan was his assistant until she took over as Sunrise’s $173,000-a-year city attorney in 2011.