SENATOR KEN JENNE: THE POLITICAL KING
An analysis to determine the similarities between the modus operandi of
the Florida Bar and organized crime utilizing a Fort Lauderdale
The article is from the 5/10/97, edition of the Sun-Sentinel by staff
writer Buddy Nevins.
- Say you live in Broward County and want a bill passed in Tallahassee.
You've gotta see Ken Jenne. Say you want the governor to appoint you a
judge. See Jenne, the Democratic state senator from Fort Lauderdale.
- If you are a candidate and need campaign contributions, Jenne's your
man. Suddenly it has become abundantly clear that Jenne is the king of
- First there is the muscling of the School Board during the recent
legislative session. Then there is his increasing influence in the past
six months in three city halls where he snared legal work though his
contacts. The School Board got a brutal lesson about Jenne's growing power
this month. The seven members tried to block the changes Jenne wanted in
the way board elections are held. Jenne steamrollered them. This year for
the first time, Jenne has found a friend on the County Commission:
Commissioner Ilene Lieberman, who was elected in November. The senator was
blocked from having any influence on the County Commission for years by
his rival, Commissioner Scott Cowan. Lieberman, who recognizes Jenne is a
smart and savvy political operator, has opened the door of county
government to Jenne.
- Jenne, 50, still controls appointments to the governing board running
the public North Broward Hospital District as its general counsel. He also
uses the district to solidify his political alliances, raising campaign
contributions for his friends from wealthy physicians.
- And Jenne has the ear of the governor on other appointments, from the
bench to the state Athletic Commission. Democratic boss Mitch Ceasar has
power, but it's largely confined to the party organization and the votes
it delivers. Nobody but Jenne covers so many bases and has influence that
touches so much in Broward. Jenne's dark side.
- Jenne's power comes from his 16 years in the Legislature and his role
as minority leader of the Senate. His power also comes from his law firm,
Conrad Scherer and Jenne, where he earned $300,000 in 1995. The firm gives
him entree into governments where it does work. First, there were the
north Broward public hospitals. in the past half-year, his firm has moved
into Lauderhill, Miramar, Sunrise and the School Board.
- And the former prosecutor has been walking the corridors of power a
long time in Broward and knows just about everybody in politics. His
Rolodex is legendary. But Jenne's power also comes from his willingness to
extract a terrible political price for defying him. he can turn from
soft-spoken friend to shouting enemy in seconds. Now, to have political
power you must be prepared to use it against your enemies. Jenne, however,
remembers every slight, every snub, every pol who told him "No."
- Jenne thinks Cowan attempted to sabotage the senator's political
career about a decade ago. Jenne still holds a grudge, but he can't really
get at the county commissioner.
- "The unusual thing about ken Jenne is that he can look squarely into
the face of a friend and see an enemy. It has happened to me, "Cowan says.
State Rep. John Rayson, D-Pompano Beach, voted against Jenne on legislation
several years ago. He ended up with an opponent sponsored by Jenne in the
1994 Democratic primary. Jenne dismisses his power and the fear factor
like this:"I'm not powerful. I'm just a little lawyer trying to do what's
right for the public."
- I was talking to him on the phone, but I think I could hear his tongue
stuffed firmly in his cheek.
This Web page is one of a SERIES OF WEB PAGES
with articles from the Fort Lauderdale Sun_Sentinel examining the
It is a page in the site entitled LEGAL REFORM
THROUGH TRANSFORMING THE DISCIPLINE OF LAW INTO A SCIENCE