While the Back to the Future crew, under the leadership of former Mayor Raul Martinez, have shunned funds from the maquinita industry, there is one slate mate who has jumped ship: former Mayor Julio Martinez, once a foe now a friend, has taken at least $1,500 from companies with maquinita permits who have also donated to the campaigns of the current and past administration.
But those are not the only contributions Julio "The Replacement" Martinez shares with el alcaldito Carlos Hernandez and former mayor Julio Robaina, who funded a $3.5 million+ bid for the county mayor's job that he lost at the 11th hour. There are contributions from Sergio Pino's companies as well and some of the same construction and management or real estate interests with bundled contributions: $2,000 in 10 $200 checks from Evelio Garcia and family and companies and $2,000 from developer Domingo Pando and his, for example. Benajamin Leon of Leon Medical Centers and his companies and relatives gave at least $1,500 in $500 maximum gifts. There is also $3,000 in six $500 contributions from firefighter locals across the county and their PACs, likely encouraged by the increasingly influential Hialeah fire union, which gave Julio Martinez their endorsement and collected funds for the other Back to the Future friends (but were unpleasantly surprised to hear of his monetary support base).
Julio Martinez's campaign reports are interesting reading. He has a $250 contribution from former Miami City Manager Jose Garcia-Pedrosa and $1,000 from Alex "No Pagues Ese Ticket" Hanna. Most intriguing, however, is a $250 contribution from Re Gu Records, owned by Recaredo Gutierrez, who borrowed money at high interest from former Mayor Alex Penelas, and soon-to-be former alcaldito Carlos Hernandez and Councilwoman Vivian Casals-Muñoz in a shadow banking industry that has been exposed by the media and a self-proclaimed music producer from Las Vegas (read: maquinitas). Gutierrez did not want to talk to Ladra about the loans -- which he is reportedly still making payments on, payments that may not be reported -- and was unhappy I called Wednesday morning. "Frankly, I don't have anything to say about any of this," said Gutierrez, who noted a $50,000 debt to el alcaldito when he claimed bankruptcy (which came out in the Miami Herald's shadow banking story before the mayoral primary). "I am a businessman with a low profile and I don't need to be involved in this. I am not a public person. And I would ask you not to call me again." (But there will be more later anyway.)
Julio Martinez told me, basically, the same thing he told the Miami Herald's editorial board: that maquinita money is as good as any other money."As long as they are legal, I am in favor," Martinez said in a telephone interview Wednesday morning, completely aware that the boss frowns upon the industry. "I don't want Hialeah people to get picked up on buses and taken to the Indians who don't give anything back to Hialeah. When they become illegal, I'll be against them."
As for Gutierrez, Martinez said he knew him only as a maquinita interest (told ya) and didn't know about the West Dade man's loans with Hernandez and Casals-Muñoz. "I didn't know they were in business." He seemed to put little weight on the fact that Gutierrez is also supporting Hernandez's campaign.
While surprised about the contributions from what would seem like tainted sources, the other Martinez shrugged off the seeming conflict of interest. "They know each other from before," he said about Gutierrez. "And Julio is wrong on the maquinitas, but I can't tell him not to accept checks."
Yes, you can. That's why you are the boss. Try it like this: "Hey, blockhead! Stop taking tainted money from the crooks who want to keep el alcaldito in power so they can keep the status quo. You don't need that extra baggage."
Because, Raul, you don't need that extra baggage.