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NUMBER 40 MARCH 18, 2019
IN THE TIME HONORED TRADITION OF MIAMI POLITICIANS RUNNING FOR REELECTION, COMMISSIONER "SELLOUT" RUSSELL, HAS HUNG OUT THE "FOR SALE" SIGN ON HIS OFFICE DOOR
Remember those fun-filled days of yesteryear when the biggest complaint about surfboard salesman/Yo-Yo champion Ken Russell was how he was working diligently to earn the nickname of Commissioner "Selfie Boy?"
What a difference 4 years makes.
At his victory party in November of 2015, after he won the runoff against Teresa Sarnoff, Russell told those in attendance that, "Money and special interests didn't elect me, you did. So I can promise they won't guide me, you will."
Days later, Russell told David Smiley of the Miami Herald that, "The amounts of money that were raised was surprising," and piously declared that, "...we made a very conscious decision to begin returning checks."
The notion at the time that Russell, and his campaign spokesman Eleazar Melendez claimed they were unaware of the large amounts of money that he raised for the runoff against teresa sarnoff was very misleading.
Russell not only knew to the dollar how much he was raising as he raised it, but he was giddy when he called to tell me how much money he had received from people who before November 3rd, never thought he'd come close to getting elected.
When it came to the issue of returning some of those campaign donations, Melendez was not bashful in revealing to Miami Herald reporter David Smiley the spin that Russell wanted to put out about his being for the little guy, by taking a stand against big money.
That was in 2015.
Now, as Russell gears up to run for reelection, all those claims about not being beholden to "special interests," and refusing to take big money from developers and others who keep showing up at City Hall with their hands out looking for a little love from the commissioner, are long gone, and the person with his hand out is Commissioner "Sellout."
The first noticeable difference in the way that things are different this year is that he's created th Political Acton Committee(PAC) Turn The Page, run by Renata Benedini, his sister-in-law.
The PAC was initially funded with $100,000 of seed money from his aborted campaign for Congress. Since then, he's collected another $84,500 from developers in the Edgewater area, and from several political action committees that are used to funnel money from other monied interests into local campaigns, starting with $5,000 from Rebuild Florida, a PAC created by Jose Felix Diaz, a former legislator, now big time lobbyist with Ballard Partners whose legislative campaign manager, Nikolas Pascua, works for Miami City Manager, Emilio "Colonel Klink" Gonzalez as his Deputy Chief of Staff.
A larger donation of $10,000 came from Building Miami's Future, the PAC created by former state representative and local Republican bulldog election issue attorney JC Planas, to support the efforts of the Adler Group in getting the voters to support the referendum question of allowing them to purchase the city property where the city's MRC building sits.
Then there's $15,000 from the OKO Group, owned by Russian Vladislav Doronin, whose seems to be trying to buy up large chunks of District 2, and who is an occasional partner with Ugo Colombo, who few if any folks know was the first person Russell met had breakfast with the morning after he won the first round of his commission election in 2015.
There's also $10,000 from the Edgewater Management Services, who repeatedly shows up as a large donor to City of Miami candidates, and $10,000 from YTech-1420 Brickell Investor, another development company with major land holdings in District 2.
You can see all of the donations including the bundled $5000 from the RonRuss companies here.
In addition to the PAC money above, Russell collected $156,350.00 in regular donations to his campaign account in the month of February, which is just $32,000 shy of all the money he collected for his 2015 campaign.
For those looking for a fun activity on a rainy day, you can scoll down the list of donors below and see how many of them you can identify as having appeared before the commissioner and his colleagues during the last 4 years looking for a little help, or see how many donations are actually part of bundled donations totaling $3000, $5000, or more dollars from a single company or individual.
While the commisisoner claimed in 2015 that, "Money and special interests didn't elect me, you did. So I can promise they won't guide me, you will.", you can bet your ass that if he gets reelected this year it will only be because the commisisoner has moved on from the "Little Peeople" and their little donations, to the big money provided by the usual suspects who show up at City Hall with an expectation that those big bucks will grease the wheels to get them what they want from "sellout's" like Russell.
It's Miami, Bitches!