PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. – Broward Sheriff Scott Israel on Friday defended a trip he and his family took aboard a campaign donor's $35 million yacht.
Israel repeated that he paid -- under Florida law -- for the five-day cruise on the NewVida, which rents for up to $190,000 a week. When Local 10's Bob Norman asked Israel about the trip, he didn't answer, then said he'd never speak with Norman again.
"The question predisposed that I took a gift, and as you and every other citizen of Broward County, Michael, holds me accountable, I'm going to hold reporters accountable for being professional, and he (Norman) predisposed I took a gift," said Israel.
Israel paid $1,500 to go with Robert Pereira, who donated $250,000 to his campaign last year.
"I went to my attorneys, our general counsel, and I asked them -- I was in virgin territory -- I said, 'How do we arrive at this number?'" said Israel. "I didn't know."
Israel said Broward Sheriff's Office lawyers told him state law only required him to pay the equivalent of an inexpensive cruise, which he did.
"There was no gift. I paid for this myself. I did the laudable thing. I did the honorable thing, and as the sheriff of Broward County I chose -- I could've claimed it as a gift, but I decided to pay for it," he said. "I didn't take a freebie of any kind. If I were told that trip was worth $100,000 and that's what the law required me to declare as a gift or pay for it, I wouldn't have gone."
Israel said he and Pereira are simply good friends.
"This Week in South Florida" airs at 11:30 a.m. Sundays on Local 10.