BROWARD COUNTY, Fla. – Newly chosen Broward Health Interim CEO Beverly "Bev" Capasso hasn’t yet begun her new job, but she’s already facing some controversy.
The reason: Capasso as a Broward Health commissioner voted for herself at a special board meeting on Monday to take the job, which typically pays more than half a million dollars a year.
The Florida Ethics Code forbids public officials from voting on matters that inure to their personal gain. Local 10 has learned the Broward State Attorney’s Office has already requested a copy of the meeting audio as part of their ongoing investigation, but State Attorney spokesman Ron Ishoy refused to comment on the matter.
"We have an active investigation into Broward Health," said Ishoy. "We continue to request documents, issue subpoenas, and do interviews. We can’t discuss specific investigative procedures."
According to the audio recording of the special meeting, Capasso voted for herself only after assurances from Broward Health General Counsel Lynn Barrett that she could. When Capasso’s name was called to vote, an unidentified voice says, “She can’t vote on that,” and that’s when Barrett, who is reportedly a personal friend of Capasso’s, said she could indeed vote for herself for the position.
"You actually can," Barrett told Capasso, "under Robert’s Rules because she’s still a commissioner until she’s not. It’s the same rule that you can vote for yourself as chair, for example. We looked at that at the chair issue."
There is one major difference, however, between a commissioner voting for herself to CEO rather than chairman of the board –- the CEO position typically pays a hefty salary with generous benefits.
Broward Health spokeswoman Daniella Aird said Capasso was "unavailable" for comment and attempts to contact her by phone were unsuccessful.
Aird said that Barrett was at work today, but she was not willing to answer any questions about the vote. Aird also said Broward Health’s "process" was for questions to be submitted in writing. But Aird responded to a written request for the legal justification for Capasso’s vote with a general statement about Capasso’s credentials for the job.
Aird wrote that it "was a unanimous vote because Ms. Capasso has extensive and valuable experience as an executive in the healthcare industry, as well as a deep understanding of public healthcare systems."
Salary and benefits have not been specified for Capasso when she replaces current interim CEO Kevin Fusco, who retires on May 26. She will be the third chief executive to take the helm at the deeply troubled agency since former CEO Nabil Sanadi committed suicide in January 2016 amid numerous allegations of wrongdoing at the agency that are now under investigation by the both the state and the FBI.