The Politics Of Mental Health Services In Broward

Oct 31, 2012

Dan Christensen of reported last week on some of the interesting characters that were (sort of) part of a privatization deal between the Department of Children and Families and a company in Broward.

DCF put out a bid several months ago to privatize the management of mental health and substance abuse services in Broward County.

A non-profit group called Broward Behavioral Health Coalition eventually won the $45 million deal from DCF.

A shareholder for Concordia gave $125, 000 to Gov. Rick Scott's political action committee while DCF considered Broward Behavioral's bid for a contract.
Credit Florida Department of Children and Families /

Christensen tells WLRN that Bob Butterworth, the former head of DCF and a former Florida Attorney General, orchestrated this deal as Broward Behavioral's president.

But he also says there was another silent partner that could benefit from this deal.

Broward Behavioral has a for-profit partner called Concordia Behavioral Health of Miami.

According to Christensen and, Miguel Fernandez, a shareholder for Concordia, gave $125, 000 to Gov. Rick Scott's political action committee, Let's Get to Work, while Broward Behavioral's bid was being considered in January.

"He gave $125,000 to 'Let's Get to Work, personally," Christensen says. "And then he and his company contributed $625,000 gave to Let's Get to Work since September 2010. He's also been a big contributor on the national level."

Christensen says that Miguel's mental health companies have given a million dollars to a Super PAC supporting Mitt Romney.

According to the article featured on,

“It sounds like maybe Gov. Scott is running Florida like a business – doing business with his friends, said Katy Sorenson, head of the Good Government Initiative at the University of Miami.

“It smells, and it’s not the way to encourage public confidence in the process. Even if it’s legal it doesn’t make it right,” she said.

Bob Sharpe, president of the Florida Council for Community Mental Health and a critic of how the contract was awarded, said, “I think we now need to know more. I’m not necessarily going to tie (Fernandez’s) contribution to his participation in the plan…That’s kind of like business as usual.”

Some have been critical of DCF's move to privatize mental health services in Broward since the idea was first proposed.