When all is said and done, the two final candidates in the county mayoral race will have spent more than $3 million between them to get out the vote.
Julio Robaina has raised more than $2 million and maybe close to $2.5 million so far in his bid to become the next Miami-Dade Mayor -- almost twice as much as former county commissioner Carlos Gimenez, his opponent, who has raised $1.3 million between his campaign account and his own PAC.
The former Hialeah mayor has reported $1.33 million in his own campaign account as of June 3, much of it in bundled maximum contributions from business partners and special interests (more on that later, it is a lot of math to do and business names to search).
But there are also six different political action committees working on his behalf. While Robaina's name is not on any of them, the supporters are the same as the ones who support his campaign (maquinita license holders, Jorge Arizurrieta, Sergio Pino) and the consultants that are being paid are all his consultants as well. Ladra has written about one of the PACs, the Truth for Our Community PAC, which is chaired by Hialeah Housing Authority Director Julio Ponce at the same Miami Lakes complex where Robaina and his business partners have their offices. Ponce was appointed by the mayor and was just given a $125,000 a year salary as well as a $900 car allowance.
Truth for Our Community has been around for years but since January has spent $13,000 on advertising and Hugo Arza, the attorney and consultant working for Robaina. They have since raised another $80,000, including $5,000 from Sergio Pino. So that's likely being spent now. A second PAC, associated with the same address, the same contriubutors and the same consultants, is Informing Our Communities: The Truth, which got in-kind donations of billboard advertisement and artwork totalling more than $16,000. Who provided it? Someone named Luis Robaina.
We also are familiar already with The Accountability Project, which is the misnomer of the year. Keith Donner's PAC is responsible for a $90,000 attack campaign against mayoral candidate Carlos Gimenez (they also led the attack ads against Coral Gables Commission candidate Brad Rosenblatt last April. Accountable indeed). A fourth PAC, called Citizens First has spent about $370,000 on, again, the same consultants (Ana Carbonell, Freddy Balsera, Julio Gonzalez-Rebull) and getting their funds from the same sources. More than $300,000 of that hascome from...
The biggest is our fifth PAC. Ladies and gentlemen, out of Tampa, we bring you Citizens to Reclaim Miami-Dade County Government (even though the expense reports call itDad County Citizens to Reclaim Government). You know how Robaina's people are with typos on their company names. Remember 172@Kendall?). They have raised a whopping $663,500 and spent $422 so far, mostly on the Robaina campaign. That means they are spending the other $240,000 (plus whatever they raise in this final stretch) to spend before the runoff. The director of that PAC is a man named Adriel Miguel Sanchez, who has an address in Hialeah and a business named Joint of Alberto that is not registered in Florida Corporations. But he also has addresses in Las Vegas and Orange County, CA. Ladra can't help but wonder if he's in the casino business.
Anyway, it seems Citizens to Reclaim is raising the funds to provide to the other PACs. In addition to the more than $300,000 transferred over to Citizens First, and another $75,000 given in two checks ($50,000 and $25,000) to The [Non]Accountability Project (which also got $1,500 from Robaina supporter and donor Jorge Arizurrieta), the Reclaim PAC with the Vegas baggage gave another $75,000, to a sixth PAC working on Julio's behalf, Floridians for Conservative Values, out of West Palm Beach. The PAC spent $63,000 of that on three consultants: Carbonell, Balsera and Gonzalez-Rebull, all of whom work for Robaina as well.
Dizzy yet? I know. Ladra needs a flow chart, too. The point is that -- even without adding up the funds donated to each of the PACs by the special interests that fund the Robaina campaign -- Robaina and his supporters are taking great pains to hide his campaign financing. Why else spread it out to six different PACs who transfer funds between them?
Gimenez reported raising $634,000 in total by the last reporting deadline in his campaign, and another $660,00 through his PAC, Common Sense Now. He has spent close to $900,000 of his funds, about half of the close to $2 mil that Robaina -- whose last report includes nearly $10,000 of contributions from his own companies and those where he is suspected of being a silent partner -- has spent as of June 3.
In fact, at this rate, they will likely break the $4 million mark between them.
Coming soon: Who are the political consultants getting rich in this race?