Commissioners going backstage at concert unethical ahead of Panthers vote?

Broward commissioners meet Billy Joel at BB&T Center

By Bob Norman - Investigative Reporter
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SUNRISE, Fla. - More than 20,000 people saw Billy Joel at the BB&T Center on Saturday night -- the highest sellout since the center's opening -- but there were only a select few who were invited backstage by Florida Panthers President Michael Yormark, manager of the arena, to meet the Piano Man.

"He's definitely a superstar," said Broward County Commissioner Marty Kiar.

Among others in attendance were Broward County Commissioner Chip LaMarca and Mayor Barbara Sharief.

Kiar, Lamarca and Sharief, who voted recently to buy the Panthers a new scoreboard on the taxpayers' dime, presented Joel with a key to the county.

The commissioners' backstage experience, courtesy of Yormark, happens to come at the same time the Panthers are asking for $70 million in taxpayer money that the commissioners will have to vote on.

All three claimed they paid for their tickets, but does the backstage access constitute an illegal gift?

"We gave him a key," said LaMarca. "He's a 65 year old, 5 foot 5 little guy that plays the piano."

Kiar said the county attorney's office has already determined the backstage passes weren't a gift.

"I paid full-price for my tickets, so I don't know where the issue is," Kiar said.

The Panthers have contributed to campaigns for both Kiar and Sharief.

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