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Stone did, however, pay $2.2 million for a waterfront home on Biscaya Drive in Surfside in 2002. He was later accused of authoring the fake George W. Bush National Guard records that cost Dan Rather his job at CBS (which Stone denies) before another drastic change happened.
In late 2005, he was invited to dinner with Gov. Charlie Crist and businessman Scott Rothstein. "My immediate impression of Rothstein was that he was very loud," Stone says. "He had this insatiable need to yell at the top of his lungs."
They soon agreed to a partnership in a company called RRA Consulting LLC. Stone got a prime corner office in the lawyer's palatial Fort Lauderdale suite. Today, Stone says the firm was a sham. "Scott was an acquirer of people," Stone says. "He'd put on a big show acquiring law firms or starting a business with me, and then once you were set up, you'd never hear from him."
Still, he did undertake one major project at Rothstein's urging — a job that might give a hint about Berke's campaign to come. In 2008, Stone worked as a consultant for Broward Sheriff Al Lamberti, who faced a steep re-election challenge. He quickly offered Lamberti some key advice: Attack opponent Scott Israel's background as a cop.
"I found out he'd fired at two African-Americans as a cop, and there was only one problem: The men were both innocent," Stone says. "I told Lamberti to plaster African-American neighborhoods with that information."
Responds Israel: "Lamberti's ads were total lies and fabrications that I wasn't prepared to deal with."
Adds his campaign manager, Judy Stern: "The whole thing was so Roger. That's campaigning Stone's way."
It worked. Despite a massive Obama win in Broward, the Republican sheriff held on to his job. "On paper, that should not have been a winnable race," Stone says.
Then Rothstein was arrested in December 2009, charged with running a $1.2 billion Ponzi scheme. Stone has been financially bruised and professionally battered ever since.
Stone briefly left South Florida afterward, first to engineer the race of a former madam named Kristin Davis for governor of New York, and then to advise fellow (and more realistic) gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino. Both races ended badly. Davis was crushed at the polls, and Paladino made a famously off-color remark about gays to a rabbi. New York tabloids picked up on the comment and pictured Stone walking shirtless in a gay pride parade to point out the hypocrisy. Then they reported on Stone's $405,035 IRS tax lien. (Stone explains he's "negotiating a settlement" with the feds.)
This past November, Citibank sued Stone, claiming he owed $25,000. Stone contends the suit is the result of overbilling, but acknowledges that in 2008 he sold his mansion. He now rents on Normandy Isle.
In January, a few months after Paladino and Davis were crushed by Democrat Andrew Cuomo, Stone received an email from Berke. Check out my pro-pot legalization videos, Berke suggested. And how about lunch at Oliver's?
He says a payout from a reality show or a city hall job — prospects both he and Berke decline to discuss in detail — was not his motivation. "Why can't anyone accept that I'm doing this for fun?" Stone asks.
Retirees downing cafecitos and chewing on scrambled eggs in David's Café II regard Steve Berke with curiosity. The Tuesday Morning Breakfast Club, a fossilized relic of politically minded residents and gadflies, is definitely not this candidate's crowd.
"Can you tell me, please," a woman with a permed bouffant asks over the chatter, "what the hell qualifications do you have to run a city?"
Berke goes on the attack. "I'm sorry, can you remind me what college Matti Bower graduated from?" he says, looking into the high-def camera filming discreetly to the side. "Oh, right, she didn't go to school. So I don't see why I'm less qualified than Bower."
The response earns a chuckle and gives Berke a chance to contrast his Yale cred with Bower's lack of a degree — but it also feels too harsh for a candidate running as a genial drunk.
As they hit the campaign trail, Berke and Stone are striking a delicate balance: The candidate has to be entertaining enough to make good television but also serious enough to win.
Stone and Berke first met to discuss the idea of his campaign in January. Berke pitched a two-pronged idea: a campaign — under the banner of "The After Party" — that could hinge on the libertarian social issues that Stone embraces. More interesting, a camera would follow him and they would pitch TV networks on a reality show starring Stone as one of the featured players.
"Roger has been working on getting a political campaign reality show on a network for years," Caputo says. "The problem has always been getting a candidate who's entertaining and might actually win."
Adds Stone: "Steve is surrounded at all times by a crowd of beautiful women. Even his male friends look like they just walked out of a Calvin Klein ad. It's like someone backed up a bus to an Abercrombie & Fitch."
The key to that entourage is Berke's campaign manager and best friend on the Beach: Michael Malone, owner of Your World Entertainment, a VIP hosting and events company. Malone, an Indiana native with shoulder-length hair and a chic, tightly trimmed beard, was a model before switching to management. "I realized that all the clubs down here would let me and all my friends drink for free every night if I brought in all the beautiful models I know," he says. "That's really how it all started."
just like reagan, a b move actor made it with no experience, so why not berke. just remember he just like all those nazi.s that where elected last year, and who will be out of a job in 2012
His platform is alright. Now the question is keeping all his promises, what consequence is he willing to pay for failing to follow through?
Having been on the beach a very long time, you learn who to stay away from. These three guys and their friends are those people. When you hang with people like this you are judged as an idiot loser. They will use you up and spit you out, seriously, they don't care about anyone but themselves. As for how they treat women is another matter all together ! Girls, if you are hanging out with these guys, you are being pimped out and will eventually get into trouble, Gaurenteed!!! Take it from me, I know first hand.
Oh Brother, now we have the clown with the big red rubber nose trying to replace the clown with the big floppy shoes.
hmm let's see the guy backing him was in on Watergate....I am NOT GOING TO SAY 1 WORD!!! ONLY in Miami.... Can anyone figure out why I moved 1600 miles away???
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Yep this corrupt clown will sodomize the beach taxpayers Republican style- suck them all dry and run off with the $$$$ while he keeps them all laughing...no kiss the next morning. Bunch of idiots WOULD vote for this little weasle!
my son played him numerous times in junior tennis tournaments and he was one of those under constant pressure by his overbearing father - win at all costs. Guess that's what it takes to be a successful politician.
I disagree with you both, Miami has been the capital of corrupt cities since the 1930s, the white, Italians and blacks have been making as stink down here since the beginnings, but Cubans have taken corruption in Miami to its highest possible peaks.