The radio commercial for mayoral candidate Carlos Gimenez that slammed Cuban radio personalities who have been apparently biased in the coverage of mayoral race -- the ad that was never aired but became a controversy on those hosts' very shows Monday -- was produced and approved by none other than Alex Diaz de la Portilla, the negative campaign attack ad king.
According to Univision Radio General Manager Claudia Puig and two people very close to the Gimenez campaign, Diaz de la Portilla was the one who produced the spot, which allegedly vilified talk radio jockeys Armando Perez-Roura, Ninoska Perez Castellón and Roberto
Rodriguez-Tejera and had it ready to air before the smarter and more enlightened people at the campaign put a stop to it and told Univision Radio to destroy the recording.
"There was no way we were going to air that," said one campaign operative who added that Diaz de la Portilla acted on his own accord without consulting with anybody prior.
Diaz de la Portilla -- who helped the Gimenez campaign with advertising and absentee ballot collection and is photographed here way after the May 24 victory party was over and we were still talking in the parking lot -- would not confirm this to Ladra Tuesday and took to insulting her instead.
"Your relevance is greatly exaggerated in your own mind," he told me on the phone, in a heated exchange in which he also threatened to sue me (even though nobody reads me, he said). "You have delusion of grandeur."
Um, not really. We weren't talking about me, anyway. I know I have only 60 or so very loyal readers who must hit my blog dozens of times a day to get me 1,293 views in the last 24 hours and almost 19,000 so far this month. They are very motivated readers, I guess. Still, he insisted I quote him and repeated the statement slowly. (Did I get it right, Alex?)
But, now, what does your assessment of my work have to do with the ad and the controversy that it erupted. Dude, you sound a lot like former Hialeah mayor and defeated mayoral candidate Julio Robaina. And a little like Vanessa Brito, with whom you said yourself you have been working on the campaign despite the fact that, as chairwoman of the Miami Voice recall PAC, she has publicly said she would remain neutral (more on that later... as in next).
Diaz de la Portilla didn't exactly deny it, mind you. Ever the politician, he simply asked me to produce the commercial and said that if I didn't, he would sue me. I said the promo was reportedly destroyed, though I have a feeling there is a copy somewhere. Isn't there always? But that's irrelevant, because I have three very reliable, relevant people who said he's responsible.
Frankly, I wasn't even going to question him much on the content of the ad, because Ladra agrees that the coverage has been biased and knows that there is a perception -- whether its based in reality or rumors -- that the Cuban AM radio dial is on a slant-for-sale pay scale. But I do agree that it was likely not in the best interest of the campaign to run it (maybe Johnny Walker helped him write it) and can't help but wonder if Alex and/or the DLP brotherhood -- because they do kind of act in unison -- have an axe to grind with those particular journalists. I called Rodriguez-Tejera, but he hasn't called me back and I don't expect him to after our exchange earlier this week where we basically agreed to have no respect for each other's work.
But I did expect Alex to act like a man and take responsibility publicly so he could take any flack off Gimenez, who apparently never knew about the promo never would have approved it, but who was attacked in negative ads by Robaina based on the content of the commercial. It's not like he doesn't have a big enough head to take credit for everything else he does (and some things he probably doesn't). When I told ADLP that someone at the station said more than multiple people on the campaign were authorized to approve campaign promos -- a statement later confirmed by one of the campaign operatives, who said Diaz de la Portilla added himself to the list -- he said he was the "one and only person" approving advertising.
"I am the one who has produced and approved more than 40 mail pieces and radio and TV spots," he said. Except the one he said didn't exist. But campaign manager JC Flores -- who is naturally more relevant than either of us -- had already told me the piece did exist once and had been produced without authority. So who's lying? Hmm. I believe Flores. And I understand that Diaz de la Portilla was "reeling" from the tremendous verbal spanking he got from the real people running this campaign and that his attack on me was just desparate defensive deflection on a really stressful day, even though he exuded extreme confidence. But that is just as bad as what he says the radio campaign operatives do. It's pajaros tirandole a la escopeta, again.
"Have never reeled in my life," he texted me after I gave him that out, and told him his behavior toward me showed no class. "lol... more class in one pinky than you will ever have in your whole body." Wow. This from a former senator and majority leader. Very statesmanlike, eh? A perfect example of said class. I saved the texts if anyone, like say the new mayor, wants to see this arrogance with their own eyes.
I have to admit, his words stung. And I know I shouldn't have let him know that he made me cry. But I was feeling the frenzy of Election Day, and he had feigned friendship at the May 24 victory party and in ensuing phone conversations about the campaign, where I wasn't as irrelevant, I guess. And I was looking forward to seeing him again that night so we could talk more, because he has a unique wealth of political information and knowledge, something I could tell in just a few hours talking to him the first time. And I loved that he was the only person, except for maybe State Rep. Erik Fressen (REP, District 111), who talks faster than me.
He texted that I got "way to emotional." Then he challenged me to google him. And, well Ladra is a very curious animal and so I did. And I was reminded of the restraining order against him granted last year by his wife for protection against domestic violence, and about his brutal negative campaign against former State Rep. Julio Robaina ("the good one") who ran against his brother, State Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla (REP, Dist. 36) for state senate last year (a campaign that was basically cloned last month against Robaina for Miami-Dade Commissioner Xavier Suarez), about his work to try to save former Mayor Carlos Alvarez from the recall, about his $17,000 fine from the Florida Ethics Commission in 2004 for his failure to comply with election laws by the Floroda Ethics Commission, which also questioned how he paid for his lavish lifestyle on a $29,000 a year salary.
And I have to thank Google and him for suggesting it. Because his blatant disrespect suddenly didn't sting anymore. But his thuggish behavior -- like that of his brother, School Board Member Renier Diaz de la Portilla, who actually had the nerve to try to kick me out of the Gimenez victory party Tuesday after I asked him if he lived in the district (it's just a question, people) -- should not be tolerated by anyone.
And that includes Mayor Gimenez, who says he likes to lead by example.