Inspector General's report slams West Palm Beach, Elliot Cohen and private contractor

Rasing questions about contract awarded to RMA
Posted at 3:19 PM, Sep 28, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-28 15:20:29-04

A report by the Palm Beach County Inspector General’s Office released today is highly critical of the city of West Palm Beach, its former spokesperson Elliot Cohen and a city contractor in charge of redevelopment.

The release comes almost a year after a complaint was filed following a series of stories done by WPTV after Cohen posted confidential information on a city website in response to a records request by the Contact 5 Investigators.

The disclosure angered members of the law enforcement community as it revealed the location of ongoing investigations and identified criminal informants.

The Inspector general concludes that former city spokesperson Elliot Cohen disclosed classified information to the public; that he used his position and city resources to run his private side business, and that he improperly had a side job with a city contractor.

But the county watchdog goes even further, saying that Cohen misused his position to solicit business for his private firm.

Cohen contacted the town of Pahokee offering his private company's services after he heard the city manager of the lake town had reached out to a West Palm Beach administrator asking for assistance.

In addition, the report slams Redevelopment Management Associates LLC (RMA), the private company that runs the city’s C.R.A., for not disclosing its business and employment relationship with Cohen to the city.

As a result the O.I.G. brings into question whether the more than $3 million the city has paid RMA was wasteful, or even fraudulent spending, and recommends the city review its contract.

In its response to the report the city says it has taken corrective action regarding the way it handles public records requests and says it will review if RMA not disclosing its relationship with the former spokesperson had an effect on the contract being awarded to RMA.

As for embattled spokesperson Elliott Cohen, he resigned his job last month and has since been a spokesperson for the West Palm Beach school recently opened by billionaire Jeff Greene.

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