Chairman of Broward Health Resigns, cites political interference

David Di Pietro resigned Thursday as chairman of Broward Health, just days after prevailing in court over Gov. Rick Scott‘s attempt to suspend him from office. Di Pietro, a Fort Lauderdale lawyer and Republican activist, said political interference by the governor had made it impossible for him to effectively serve the public hospital system.

 “During my term as Commissioner, I took steps to uncover and fight corruption, increase transparency, and save taxpayer money,” he said in a letter to the governor. “Although I have served with honor on the Board, your actions have made it obvious to me that exercising my independent, fiduciary judgment as a Board member is not consistent with your interests. That is why I was suspended and why it is impossible for me to continue to serve in good conscience on the Board of Commissioners. No matter how hard I may try to fix the problems at Broward Health, it is stifled with so much political interference, that my continued membership is utterly futile.”

The governor’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The inspector general accused the two board members of malfeasance for attempting to interfere with her work. She focused on Di Pietro because he was chairman and Wright because he was chairman of the board’s audit committee.

But on Monday, Broward Circuit Judge Carol-Lisa Phillips found there was no evidence Di Pietro had done anything wrong and ordered the governor to reinstate him. The governor has appealed.

Brian Silber, Di Pietro’s lawyer, said Di Pietro fought the governor in court before resigning because he wanted to clear his name.

“They made him a fall guy,” he said. “He was being character-assassinated, and he had to speak up for himself.”

Silber said Scott, a former hospital corporation chief executive officer, may have gone after Di Pietro to further destabilize Broward Health, making it more likely he could privatize the system.

Di Pietro was appointed to the board in 2011. The board members, all Republicans, serve without pay and oversee a system that includes four hospitals and numerous other facilities, with more than 8,000 employees who serve the county north of Griffin Road. The system, legally known as the North Broward Hospital District, is partially supported by property taxes.

As a member of the board, Di Pietro had become highly critical of the district’s leadership since the suicide in January of its chief executive officer, Dr. Nabil El Sanadi.

He attempted unsuccessfully to persuade a majority of the board to fire general counsel Lynn Barrett, who he had accused of giving bad advice to the board, paying extravagant sums to outside law firms and botching the job of securing new contracts for the district’s doctors.

He successfully pressed for the replacement of the interim CEO with Pauline Grant, who now holds the job.

http://www.sun-sentinel.com/local/broward/fl-di-pietro-resigns-20160414-story.html

David FleshlerContact ReporterSun Sentinel

dfleshler@sunsentinel.com, 954-356-4535