FORT LAUDERDALE — The Broward County State Attorney lawyer who pressured web host GoDaddy to shut down the Palm Beach County-based political website pbsotalk.com last month didn’t tell the Internet giant the whole truth and nothing but the truth, Gossip Extra has learned.
Here is what Assistant State Attorney Dennis Nicewander wrote in an email to convince GoDaddy to ban the anti-Sheriff Ric Bradshaw website from public view in the middle of the campaign for sheriff: “My office is investigating a situation were someone hacked into public databases and is now publishing confidential personal information regarding law enforcement officers, judges and prosecutors.”
No. 1: Broward’s SAO was not, is not, investigating pbsotalk.com nor its founder Mark Dougan, according to the state attorney’s spokesman.
No. 2: Dougan did not hack into any database, he tells us from Russia, where he is applying for political asylum. “All the info published was from public records. There was no hack.”
No. 3: By the time GoDaddy took down pbsotalk.com, the information that offended the SAO was long gone.
In a follow-up letter, Nicewander changed his story and mentioned that the FBI was conducting an investigation in Dougan’s site but reiterated that pbsotalk.com obtained the information through hacking.
Ron Ishoy, the SAO’s spokesman, said Nicewander went with a “gut feeling” in his first contact with GoDaddy.
“Dennis wrote the first informal query to GoDaddy based on a gut feeling that a hacking crime might have been committed in Broward, that he thought would ultimately need its own investigation,” Ishoy wrote in a statement.
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Nicewander, whose specialty is online child porn, was assigned along with a half dozen SAO big wigs to a task force charged to strategize how to eliminate the publication of private info of Broward law enforcement officials and SAO workers.
“We brought on Dennis because he knows how to do this kind of stuff,” said Monica Hofheinz, executive director of the Broward SAO. “So Dennis said he would deal with GoDaddy.
“The publication of the names and social security numbers and addresses of Broward law enforcement people put them in danger.
“It was never our intention to step in the middle of a First Amendment issue.”
Still, the Broward civil servants’ actions coincidentally made Sheriff Ric Bradshaw’s reelection much easier, even if Hofheinz also says that was never her office’s intention.
For years now, pbsotalk.com was a thorn in the side of Bradshaw’s political machine.
It allowed Bradshaw’s deputies to air anonymously their beef with the sheriff and expose waste and numerous dysfunctions inside an agency funded by taxpayers to the tune of $500 million a year.
Bradshaw’s 2012 campaign even offered to buy pbsotalk.com but couldn’t agree on the terms with founder Mark Dougan, a former PBSO deputy.
In March, Dougan blanketed Palm Beach County voter rolls with a scathing email with more allegations of corruption against Bradshaw. Three days later, Dougan’s home in Palm Beach Gardens was raided by both the FBI and the Palm Beach County State Attorney’s Office in connection with an alleged computer-hacking investigation. They seized most of his computer equipment.
The website was taken down almost a week later after GoDaddy told the Broward SAO it would only act on the request to take down pbsotalk.com with proof of an active investigation.
What was Nicewander’s proof?
Gossip Extra‘s exclusive story about the raid on Dougan’s house!
Dougan, by the way, has been under PBSO investigation for six-plus years. And despite the raid on his house, he has yet to be charged with a crime.
He flew to Russia last week. Yesterday, he made his official request for political asylum to the office of President Vladimir Putin on the grounds that he fears for his safety while being harassed by Palm Beach County authorities.