It's always intriguing to speculate on the conversations and arrangements that go on behind closed doors at Miami City Hall, especially when the results of those deals come out into the sunlight, and the game begins to try and figure out the degrees of separation - or lack of - between the players.
In this case we have to start with Mike Eidson and Xavier Suarez - Francis's father and the county commissioner for District 7 - and their partnership in the fight to rehab the Coconut Grove Playhouse, and then we have all the money that Eidson gave and raised for Francis Suarez's campaign.
That's enough for us to speculate whether Mike Eidson and his law firm, who supposedfly came to the game late, would have still wound up as the lead counsel in this contingency lawsuit - a lawsuit that could result in a payday worth millions to the law firms involved - if he had not been Xavier's ally in the Playhouse fight, and Daddy Warbucks to Francis?
It's these kind of things that make inquiring minds say, Hmmmm.
POSSIBLE QUID PRO QUO NUMBER II
The most glaring example involving the failure of anyone in the news media to report on, or even mention the big money donations that Francis Suarez's campaign for Mayor received was the recent effort by Jorge and Jose Mas, representing the Beckham Group, to get their hands on the Melreese Golf Course.
Everyone in South Florida who pays attention to politices - and especially Cuban exile politics - knows that Jorge Mas, his brother Jose and their mother are the owners of the communications company Mastec.
On February 28, 2017, Mastec gave Suarez's PAC, Miami's Future, Inc, $25,000.00.
You would think that a $25,000 donation to Suarez's PAC might have found its way into the stories that the Miami Herald, or the Miami New Times did about this controversial deal.
It didn't! Not a peep! Not a single fucking word or digit!
Compare that to the two, $1000 checks from a private prison company given to Deede Weithorn that resulted in research, phone calls, and a story in the Miami Herald in the story that I highlighted above.
A coupe 000 checks get treated as a potential bribe from hell, while a $25,000 donation from a company that's owned by the Mas company, whose owners are looking to get their hands on a 73 acres piece of public property to build a minor league soccer stadium and a BILLION DOLLAR development on gets totally ignored.
While these are the two most glaring examples of possible quid pro quos between Francis Suarez and the favors that deep pocket donors have received since he's become mayor, there are numerous other examples of potential conflicts that I've spotted involving donors who gave Suarez and others on the City Commission big bucks, and who will sooner or later, if they haven't already, start lining up at the trough looking for a return on their investments.
THE PART-TIME MAYOR IS A PART-TIME LAWYER
Another disturbing problem has been the one created by Francis Suarez's unwillingness to agree to separate himself from the practice of law while he is the Mayor of Miami is the accountablity problem that creates.
As an attorney, he can use the lawyer/client relationship to shield a lot of activities that might raise ethical or legal questions if the public was able to know who his clients are?
The stories of prior elected officials who were also lawyers, and who while continuing to practice law used their law firm offices to supposedly conduct "public business," have provided fodder for the claims of "Pay For Play," and for rumors of those law firms receiving sizable retainers to represent clients with business before public bodies and agencies overseen by these politicians.
Practicing law while being an elected official is seen by many insiders as a dark and murky world where secret deals get done, and the public gets screwed.
Unfortunately, Francis Suarez's first 7 months as Mayor has not done anything for those who now question his behavior after the Beckham Group fiasco to believe that given the opportunity, he won't engage in other activities that screw the city and the residents, and to possibly do so behind a shield of attorney/client privilege.
ALWAYS FOLLOW THE MONEY
As of July 31st, the Miamians for an Independent and Accountable Mayors Initiative, Inc. committee has received $962,983.00 to finance Suarez's campaign to become a strong mayor. $100,000.00 came from the PAC, Miami's Future, Inc.
Below is the complete list of all the individuals and companies that have donated money to this committee. I've highlighted in RED all of the donations of $10,000 or more, and in YELLOW all of the donations that appear to be bundled from the same address.
For those really curious about how much money, and from whom Francis Suarez has received in the last 2 years, go to Part I of my original stories about his campaign finances, and then match the names you find there, with the names below, do the math, and see the tens of thousands that these people have given, and then go looking for how many of these folks and companies either have, or recently had business at Miami City Hall that required a favor or two.
Support The Crespogram
There are no assurances that even if evidence of criminal behavior were to surface that law enforcement would do anything - the Family and Friends Plan is real and has protected politicians in this community for decades - but when you have a news media that refuses to report on the millions of dollars that continue being funneled into campaign acocunts of people like Francis Suarez, and trust me, the money that Francis Suarez has collected is but a trifle when you go searching all of the ECO's and PAC's that collect and distribute money to South Florida politicians - and when these same news media outlets refuse to report so much of what actually goes on both in the open and behind closed doors at Miami City Hall - then the only recourse for people who care is to try and get law enforcement involved.
Of course, that comes with it's own problems as I will tell you in my next story about what happened with the investigation of Tomas Regalado and his free rent apartment.
It's Miami, Bitches!
In the last two years Francis Suarez has received a total of $3,656,683.80 in donations for his campaign to become mayor and now his efforts to become the strong mayor of Miami.
He didn't receive that money because of his skills as a serious public policy strategist, or because he's demonstrated the kind of maturity and judgment that set him apart from the long history of self-dealing and ethically challenged politicians who've populated Miami City Hall for decades.
His behavior in Beckham soccer deal showed a lack of respect for transparency, and honesty, and the revelations about what are clearly examples of gross incompetence in the petition drive to put a referendum on the ballot that would make him a strong mayor point to a lack of attention to detail and managerial oversight that make a lie of his claim that the residents of Miami would benefit from the transparency, efficiency and accountability that he would bring to the office of strong mayor.
Those issues should be resolved in the politicial arena, and for that to happen will depend in large part on the political courage of the members of the City Commission, and whether they have the courage to stand up and say, NO! ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!
On the other hand, one of the results of so many $10,000, $20,000, $25,000, $30,000 and even $50,000 campaign donations making their way into the accounts of not only Francis Suarez, but also some of the City Commisisoners is what exactly do these people, many who frequent Miami City Hall, expect from the politicians that they are giving these huge amounts of money to?
As the Suarez administration continues to move forward, there are Florida Statutes that I think folks need to become aware of.
The 2 images above tell you a lot about the slanted and biased failure of the "real" news media to look out for, and inform the citizens of South Florida about how politicians at Miami City Hall are not just selling their asses to get elected, but how, once they get in office they are selling out the city.
Both of the images above were related to stories that each publication did last week.
In the first image, the Miami New Times got all lathered up because a total of 34 individuals and companies tied to the sugar industry donated a total of 7,200 to Diaz-Balart's campaign in amounts of $500 to $2700.
In the second image, the Miami Herald did a story about how former Miami Beach City Commissioner Deede Weithorn received 2 - $1000 checks from the private prison company The GEO Group, and tied the donations to a "personal relationship."
Since the Miami Herald now specializes in "click bait" journalism, a reader might have leaped to the conclusion that the headline was hinting that some sexual hanky-panky might have prompted these donations.
In fact, the story revealed that Weithorn became friends with Jillian Hasner, the chief executive of a charity called Take Stock With Children, who was also the wife of Adam Hasner, the company's VP of public policy, and Weithorn met and became friends with Lillian when she worked with the charity.
There are valid reasons to do stories about the money that the sugar families and companies as well as a major private prison group gave to local politicians, but both of these stories were on par with writing about gold fish swimming in a fish tank, while a pod of killer whales was swimming around Biscayne Bay.
On April 23rd of this year - 3 1/2 months ago - I published part 1 of a 2 part story that detailed the amounts of big money donations that Francis Suarez had received last year for his campaign for Mayor.
In that campaign, Suarez's campaign account and PAC received a total of $2,602,700.80, and spent $2,171,491.60, to defeat 3 candidates who collectively self-donated and spent a total of $1000.
As part of my story I included a detailed list of individuals and companies that gave Francis Suarez donations of at least $10,000.00.
.0001 Since I wrote and published my 2 part series about the donations and expenditures, (PART I) (PART II), not one publication, TV station, or radio show to my knowledge ever picked up on these donations, or used this information in subsequent stories about some of the individuals and companies who since last November started showing up at City Hall looking for a favor or a deal, like the following three examples.
POSSIBLE QUID PRO QUO NUMBER I
In June of 2016, approximately a year and a half before the actual election, the Miami Herald published the only substantial story about Francis Suarez's campaign financing.
In that story, Herald reporter/stenographer David Smiley described how most of the $591,000.00 raised by Suarez's campaign in the previous month had come from a giant fund raiser that Mike Eidson, of the law firm Colson Hicks Eidson, had hosted where, "more than 100 people gathered in his upstairs living room overlooking the bay in a sort of get-to-know-you session with the candidate."
During that same time City Attorney Victoria Mendez, was being approached by law firms trolling for clients to sign on as plaintiffs in contingency lawsuits against the companies that manufactured opioids.
On August 24th, an email from Victoria Mendez's assistant informed the Agenda Office that Mayor Regalado wanted to sponsor a Resolution, authorizing the City Attorney to engage outside counsel to represent the city in such a lawsuit.
Sixteen minutes later, a second email was sent saying that Francis Suarez wanted to sponsor that resolution.
At the September 28, 2017, City Commission Meeting, Commissioner Francis Suarez introduced the following resolution that was approved as part of the Consent Agenda.
When I saw this meeting on Suarez's calendar, I started asking questions and requesting documents.
Among the questions I asked were how had Colson Hicks Eidson become involved in this lawsuit, and had they ever done legal work for the city before.
In emails that I received from the city as part of several public record requests, responses that appeared to be both an effort to distract me while ignoring the request that I had made for a copy of the proposal that City Attorney Victoria Mendez had claimed that Colson Hicks Eidson had made to the city, I learned that at least a half dozen laws firms staring in July had either approached the city with inquiries or with offers to make a presentation. Those law firms included, Drake Martin, Harke Clasby & Bushman, Cole, Scott & Kissane and Stull & Brody.
When I asked Mendez when Colson Hicks Eidson had submitted their proposal she responded that it had occurred after the passage of the resolution, and that they had never done any work for the city before submitting their proposal.
On April 16, 2018, a complaint against a number of opioid manufacturers was filed in the 11th Judicial Circuit Court in Miami. The list of the law firms representing the city was what I found to be the most interesting part of the lawsuit. (You can read the complaint HERE.)
On November 20th, in one of his first meetings after being sworn in as Mayor, Suarez met with Mike Eidson, City Attorney Victoria Mendez, Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber and two other attorneys representing other law firms.
What is interesting about the individuals highlighted is that after arranging to raise close to $500,000 for Francis Suarez's campaign, as well as personally donating $12,500, with another $12,500 coming from his law firm - Eidson's law firm, supposedly coming late to the game ended up as the lead counsel in this lawsuit.
The second interesting thing is the inclusion of Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber and his law firm. You would think that as the Mayor of Miami Beach he might be more concerned about recouping the costs for the damage associated with opioid drugs in his city rather than being part of a legal team representing the City of Miami, but then again, when there are no rules, and elected officials have a choice between public interest, and self-interest anything goes.
Also Gelber and Francis Suarez seem to have a close personal bond that included sharing the same campaign fundraiser.
NUMBER 82 - AUGUST 25, 2018