Hidden owner of ‘news’ site gave $120,000 to group that paid sheriff’s campaign manager

By Dan Christensen, BrowardBulldog.org 

Broward Bugle owner Andrew Miller, right, with Roger Stone  Photo: Dan Christensen

Broward Bugle owner Andrew Miller, right, with Roger Stone Photo: Dan Christensen

The registered owner of an online Broward “news” operation contributed over $120,000 to a political group that made payments to a firm owned by Sheriff Scott Israel’s campaign manager, Amy Rose, and to her husband.

Andrew James Miller, 29, gave the money to Taxpayers for Integrity in Government last August, amid Israel’s successful bid to unseat then-Sheriff Al Lamberti, election records show.

Miller is a protégé of flamboyant South Florida-based political consultant and prospective gubernatorial candidate, Roger Stone. Miller describes himself on his Twitter page as a “political pirate, provocateur, street fighter.”

Internet domain registration records obtained by BrowardBulldog.org identify Miller as the owner of record of the Broward Bugle, which calls itself “your new source for political and governmental news.” The records list Miller’s address as Stone’s former offices at 401 E. Las Olas Boulevard, Fort Lauderdale.

A SECRETIVE NEWS SITE

The secretive Bugle does not identify its publisher or staffers by their real names. Its Hollywood attorney, Holiday Hunt Russell, would not answer questions about his client. Stone, an Israel supporter with a reputation as a political dirty trickster, has been rumored for months to be behind it because of stories with headlines like last month’s “Lamberti has Chutzpah.”

“I’m nervous talking about this. I don’t want to say something wrong,” said Miller when asked about the Bugle. “I’m not the one running it. I know who is, but I’m not at liberty to give any names. It’s above my pay grade.”

Said Stone, “I’m not going to talk about the Bugle, I’m really not.

Taxpayers for Integrity in Government is a Florida electioneering communications organization (ECO) which raised more than $1.2 million last year. Its chair is Todd Wilder, a Tallahassee political consultant and former top aide to disgraced ex-Broward Sheriff Ken Jenne.

Miller, who said he is a friend of Wilder, lives in a three-story walk-up in an older building on Manhattan’s upper east side. He said he makes a living as a political operative, but that Stone doesn’t pay him. However, with Stone, he worked last year for Gary Johnson, the former governor of New Mexico and Libertarian Party nominee for president.

Andrew Miller with Libertarian Party presidential nominee Gary Johnson in a photo he tweeted last year

Andrew Miller with Libertarian Party presidential nominee Gary Johnson in a photo he tweeted last year

This year, Miller is helping another Stone client, Kristin Davis, a former madam running for mayor of New York City as a Libertarian. Miller’s stepmother, Dianne Thorne, is Stone’s longtime assistant and chairs the Libertarians’ Miami-Dade chapter.

Stone called Miller a “trust fund baby” from a wealthy Missouri family who’s “like a son to me.”

Miller, however, told a reporter he’s not wealthy. He also said he had no specific candidate or issue in mind when he decided in advance of last summer’s primary election to give $120,200 to Taxpayers for Integrity – his lone statewide political contribution last year, according to state records.

So why did Miller contribute such a large sum to an obscure group that, unlike candidates, can accept unlimited contributions to influence political campaigns?

“DOING MY CIVIC DUTY”

“I was just doing my civic duty. Making the world a better place,” said Miller. Asked where the money from, he said “my bank account.”

Two weeks before last November’s general election, Taxpayers for Integrity, paid $10,000 to Amy Rose’s firm, Win on the Ground Consulting, and another $5,000 to her husband, Wally Eccleston.

Those payments were unrelated to the sheriff’s race, according to Rose and Wilder. Rose said the payments were for various data and fundraising lists.

Taxpayers for Integrity, however, was on Israel’s side in the sheriff’s race. The Sun-Sentinel reported in August that Wilder’s group used email, mail and phone calls to tout Israel and attack his opponent during the primary.

Broward Sheriff Scott Israel

Broward Sheriff Scott Israel

The Bugle, too, has been on Israel’s side since it began publishing last year, with most of its coverage either positive about Israel or negative about Lamberti. The Bugle also has attacked Barbra Stern, the new Florida elections commissioner, whose mother, lobbyist and consultant Judy Stern, ran Israel’s losing campaign for sheriff in 2008.

Rose said she and Eccleston will soon join BSO. Rose starts at the end of the month as Israel’s assistant chief of staff. Eccleston is to work under Finance Director Angelo Castillo, though no start date has been set.

Stone, 60, who enjoys his reputation for political hardball, is a longtime Republican operative who cut his professional teeth working for Richard Nixon’s notorious CREEP, the Committee to Re-Elect the President. Nixon’s face is tattooed on his back.

He says he became disillusioned with the Republican Party last year and switched his allegiance to the tiny Libertarian Party. He announced his interest in a 2014 run for governor in February.

STONE’S $1.6 MILLION IN TAX LIENS

But some Libertarian party leaders don’t believe Stone. Bill Still, a candidate for the party’s presidential nomination last year, said Stone and sidekick Miller appeared to him to be Republican moles looking to take over or destroy the Libertarian Party.

“That was my feeling, yes,” said Still.

Stone, who lives in Miami Beach, is a former business partner of imprisoned Fort Lauderdale Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein.

The South Florida Business Journal reported last month that he agreed to pay $18,000 to settle a lawsuit stemming from the bankruptcy of Rothstein’s law firm, Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler. A bankruptcy court trustee had sued alleging Stone and his companies were paid $400,000 in professional fees that provided no benefit to the law firm.

Stone, however, has not resolved more serious financial claims by the Internal Revenue Service.

Five tax liens filed in Miami-Dade say Stone and his wife, Nydia, owe more than $1.6 million in unpaid back taxes.  The assessments are for the years 2006-2011.

Stone said his attorneys are in talks with the IRS to resolve the matter.

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