Hialeah Mayor Julio Robaina, one of the front runners in the race to replace recalled county mayor Carlos Alvarez, has raised more than $611,000 for the election bid.
That's more than twice as much as former commissioner Carlos Gimenez, who resigned this week to run for the top post, and quite a leap frog jump over former State Rep. Marcelo Llorente, who has been fundraising for two years and had the biggest total of almost $370,000.
Robaina's first campaign finance report might not have been available online Tuesday because of its sheer size: more than 1,500 contributions. But while it may look like he has widespread support, a closer analysis shows that many of the contributors are from repeat supporters, so it's not like he has soooo many people willing to write him checks. More like, yeah, a lot of people... and some of them are willing to write him soooo many checks. Let's call them super supporters.
Take Miami Lakes real estate agent Martin Caparros, Jr.,who gave at least 18 separate contributions of the maximum $500 each for a total investment of $9,000 into the campaign, one from him and the rest from the multiple companies he owns or is a principal in. (Ladra thinks I must have missed two because $10K is a much easier price to roll of the tongue).
But Caparros was cheap. He is not going to get the same kind of attention as former Ready State Bank founding chair and president Roberto Cayon, whose real estate developing family gave at least 30 separate $500 contributions under different corporate names at their Hialeah headquarters. Then there were another 46 found so far (yes, another 46, for a total of 76) donations from different companies at the same Bird Road address, some tied to Cayon but all tied to real estate investor Tom Cabrerizo, who is sometimes his business partner (on paper). Add up all the maximum $500 donations from that group of rather acutely interested parties and you get a $38,000 investment in Robaina's mayoral future. Wonder what they expect is going to be their ROI.
Smaller donors who nonetheless apparently wanted to show their support include Former Hialeah Housing Authority Commissioner and cigar company owner Jose Oliva -- who is running for state rep in district 110 -- who gave $2,000 in total from his firm and his family members. The Graham Companies also gave four $500 donations. And $1,500 came from Pinecrest Councilman Joseph Corradino, his wife and his firm.
Expenses have some fun details, too. Like the fact that Ana Carbonell, former chief of staff for former U.S. Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart (Rep. Fla) is among his consultants. Robaina paid her firm, The Factor, $5,000. He also paid Gus Garcia $6,000 and another $5,000 to attorney Hugo Arza, who apparently did go ahead and open that political consulting business with his cousin, former State Rep. Ralph Arza, who was sentenced to 18 months probation in 2007 after he pleaded guilty to two counts of tampering with a witness following threatening obscenity-laced messages he left on the voice mail of fellow lawmaker State Rep. Gustavo Barreiro (Rep. Distc. 107).
But if Robaina is such a great businessman, why can't he get a better deal on his phone plan? The campaign paid more than $7,000 for what we think are phone bills because it was paid to Metro PCS or Sprint, which has some of the cheapest plans with unlimited calling and texting so he must have like 28 top-of-the-line phones). But we don't know for sure because under "purpose" for almost every expense, Robaina or his treasurer list "Mayor of Miami-Dade County." But the elections department does not mean your purpose in life, Julio. They mean what the money was used for: office supplies, catering, phones, absentee ballots, polls, loans with 36% interest, consulting, this and that. There is another payment one month later to Metro PCS for $3,265 on Feb. 18 (with $600 to Sprint in between). Robaina may have upgraded his phone four days later when there is another Metro PCS charge for $400 (Ladra wants a Droid). On March 1, he paid another $1,200 or so in several different payments to the provider. It must take a lot of people odialing a lot of numbers to drum up this kind of cash. But maybe he wants a wider network: On March 18 he paid AT&T $1,000 for phone service.
Well, at least Robaina should be easy to get on the phone.