Hallandale Beach mayor criticized for ties to developer

Joy Cooper criticized for campaign ties to Related Group

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Some people in Hallandale Beach are criticizing Mayor Joy Cooper's campaign ties to a developer in the city.

When Joy Cooper helped push through a controversial high-rise hotel development in Hallandale Beach in June, she spoke highly of the developer, Miami-based Related Group.

"I'm glad this passed. I thank you for your partnership," said Cooper during the city commission meeting. "I want to commend Related."

About a month after that vote, Related Group threw a fundraiser for Cooper that raised her campaign about $20,000. Cooper is running for reelection.

"I think it's awful. It doesn't seem right," said Adrienne Despaigne, who owns a business near the development.

"It doesn't pass the smell test," said City Commissioner Keith London, who is running for mayor against Cooper.

The fundraiser is legal if there is no proof that Cooper struck a deal with Related to sell her vote, which she says never happened.

"Basically, the timing -- you voted for this development," said Local 10's Bob Norman.

"I've known Related Group for over ten years. They've done other projects in my city. They are my supporters," said Cooper.

Related Group plans on building a 31-story hotel tower with 84 residential units. The city gave away a road to allow the development, but some said the city should have received more in return.

"I didn't feel that they were giving back to the city enough," said London.

"Parking is my concern," said Despaigne.

Despaigne said the campaign contributions troubled her.

"If it's not already written that it's unethical, I think laws should be changed," said Despaigne.

Before Cooper's vote, the Hallandale Beach Planning and Zoning Committee voted against the project. The chairman told Norman he felt it was a giveaway.

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