Miami Voice, the PAC that is behind the recall effort against Miami-Dade Commissioner Natacha Seijas, has finally filed their campaign finance disclosures -- 10 days late.
And they now face a $900 fine.
What was the delay for the report? It is relatively short, compared to may reports, and should have been easily completed in an hour. Or certainly a day. It does not take 10 days to list just 28 expenses and 8 contributions, including a $2,000 check from developer Lowell Dunn, whose name Ladra keeps hearing from different sources as someone tied to reported ethics complaints and investigations into Miami Lakes Mayor Michael "Muscle" Pizzi, an established Seijas foe who represents the PAC as attorney. (But more on that later).
We don't know why it wasn't filed Feb. 25, on the deadline, which would have been before voting started. The intent of the law is to let voters know, before they cast their ballots, who is bankrolling the effort and where they are putting their resources.
But PAC Chairwoman Vanessa Brito won't apologize for the delay. She justifies it with lies (like that she had sent it to all media outlets) and excuses like her being "just one person" and her uncle being in the hospital. But her uncle wasn't rushed to ER until five days after the report was due. And she has since spent more time posing for photos at voting sites (ear-to-ear smile), writing emails, commenting on blogs and granting TV and radio interviews than by his hospital bed.
I can't wait to get the NEXT finance report to see what checks she made to herself or what she was out collecting while her uncle was in the hospital and while she delayed submitting the legally-required report.
Maria Acosta, a clerk in the Miami-Dade Elections Department, said that the data was input into the computer on Monday, but that Miami Voice will be fined $890 for violating the law and filing late -- which is exactly 25 percent, or a quarter, of their donations for that period.
Ladra is quite sure that they do not care. That is a small price to pay to keep the voters blind as to where their money is coming from and where it's going. We must demand some kind of reform or change to campaign finance laws. Otherwise, fines like this will just become part of the campaign budget.
The report, reflecting contributions and expenses from Jan. 1 to Feb. 18, shows $3,560 in contributions, including the $2,000 from Dunn -- who recently got a big break on development (they can build for 10 years using current traffic data) from the town council, a reverse from a 2005 vote -- and a $1,000 donation from Hialeah attorney Lucy Pineiro, as well as some smaller checks that are all from outside the district.
But the $3,100 or so in expenses are also interesting. Especially since a third of that, about $1,000 in five different payments, went to to Marsellous Eaford for "campaign work." Ladra smells something wrong here. Eaford is one of the petition circulators whose petitions were questioned by Seijas supporters for irregularities -- like her name spelled wrong. Seijas supporters insist that many of the Eaford petitions should have been thrown out as invalid. I suppose that Miami Voice, on the other hand, felt that Eaford should be rewarded.
Brito rewarded herself, too. Another $500 went to her, for a total of $3,600 so far for her work on the recall (even though she tells people she is not getting paid one penny to do this). Her right hand woman, Head of Insecurity Ivette Lisa Taylor, was also paid $600, though itemization for that says less than half was for campaign work. There was $100 for reimbursement for flyers and $300 to "reimburse" something else. What? It doesn't say. Maybe "reimbursement" is a good code word for whatever they can't really, legally pay for or don't want voters to know.
Maybe those are the creative touches that made the report 10 days late.