Abraham, Hanson, Limbaugh, Trump: They help shape the world, but not Palm Beach County

Staff Writer

Widely recognizable, their names inherently speak of power.

Donald Trump, the mega-millionaire world-renowned for towering skyscrapers and a monumental ego. Rush Limbaugh, the bombastic conservative who draws 15 million listeners weekly to his syndicated radio talk show. Eric Hanson, a heavyweight lobbyist considered a "kingmaker" by some for his influence in state and national politics. Daniel Abraham, Slim-Fast founder and instrumental Middle East peace facilitator.

Their clout is considerable, their scope wide-reaching.

But in Palm Beach County, where they live and work, this special breed of powerbroker has had little say in the local political, social or civic landscape.

It's not as if they've been out of the picture.

Abraham helped launch an Orthodox synagogue in Palm Beach, where he has a home. Hanson claims the county among his long list of clients and has entertained former President Clinton at his Palm Beach home. Limbaugh broadcasts his show from a studio not far from his Palm Beach compound.

And Trump rebuilt the Marjorie Merriweather Post mansion into Mar-a-Lago, an exclusive Palm Beach social club. After suing the county over jet noise over Mar-a-Lago, he also hashed out a 1997 settlement for the lease of 214 acres of airport property for a new golf course.

But while they are influential in other regions of the nation and world, none would appear on any list of power players affecting the course of Palm Beach County -- not even Trump, who has lobbied county commissioners hard for his own projects.

"He's got global influence," said U.S. Rep. Mark Foley, R-West Palm Beach, "but his influence locally is negative."

Others in this special category of powerbrokers have strong connections here and would easily find their influence welcomed if their attention ever turns to the local scene.

Hanson, chairman and CEO of U.S. Strategies Corp., has helped Foley and U.S. Rep. Clay Shaw, R-Fort Lauderdale, with their campaigns. Limbaugh made a point in 1997 to relocate his show near his Palm Beach home to move from a seasonal to year-round resident.

And Abraham, a colossal fund-raiser for both the state and national Democratic parties, works closely with U.S. Rep. Robert Wexler, D-Boca Raton, in the Center for Middle East Peace that Abraham co-founded.

Abraham is a tireless advocate for peace between Israel and the Palestinians and is instrumental in arranging meetings between American officials and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.

Indeed, he's found the local political landscape challenging, but he's undeterred. Twice thwarted by neighbors' complaints and zoning issues, Abraham refuses to give up on a plan for a 12,000-square-foot temple in Palm Beach for 400 worshipers. Services already are being held at a temporary site, and Abraham seems determined to make the temple a reality.

Wexler thinks Abraham can accomplish anything he puts his mind to.

"He is a remarkable man," the congressman said. "He's got an enormous amount of charisma, but part and parcel to that, Danny never, ever asks for anything for himself. He's in it purely for the right reasons."

Nicole Sterghos Brochu can be reached at nbrochu@sun-sentinel.com or 561-243-6603.

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