You heard it here first. Actually, months ago. Ladra is not just a public watchdog. She's a political psychic.
Back in April, when a Miami Lakes dentist sued Constant Contact about an email he says defamed him to find out who the signed author "Sandra Lopez" really was, Ladra came right out and bet it would turn out to be Vanessa Brito, a political conartistultant who had campaigned for the recalls of former Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez and Commissioner Natacha Seijas.
Dentist-turned-activist David Bennett knew it, too. It was Brito's trademark cowardly, anonymous style, her exaggeratedly derisive and contemptuous language. What we want to know now is who paid for it. Vanessa is perpetually broke and sucks the life out of everyone around her, like a locust, until they're spent dry or realize they're going to bleed to death. And Pizzi had more interest in bashing Bennett, a longtime vocal critic of the mayor's who formed an anti-Pizzi and pals PAC and had started to work on a recall effort. The bouncer-like mayor, who recently got hired as the town attorney in Medley (more on that later) and was involved behind the scenes in the election of Hialeah's alcaldito Carlos Hernandez and his slate, was counsel for Brito's Miami Voice PAC (read: Promotional Assistance Con) during a legal challenge of their dubious recall petition collection. And the two, photographed here during early voting for the recall campaign, became ratherbuddy-buddy during those weeks. Brito announced late last month that she was the campaign manager for his re-election campaign (guess Pizzi isn't worried about her recent track record). Also, the attorney that showed up in court to request that the Constant Contact client remain a Jane Doe was none other than David Reiner, who worked with Pizzi in the recall challenge. Now, in a second lawsuit on the matter (read on), a third recall lawyer, Ben Kuehne, has joined in to defend Brito and the rest named in the suit.
But, wait. Let's go to the beginning of this wonderfully entertaining tale, which began in April when attorney Stephen Cody filed a lawsuit on behalf of Bennett. It demanded that Constant Contact disclose the name of the account holder that sent what they referred to as a defamatory email blast from "Sandra Lopez." The email called Bennett a fraud because he had registered the name Miami Voice, Inc., in the state Division's of Corporate Records (you snooze you lose, Vanessa) and questioned his motives (well, maybe I question them too. But I also applaud them). Despite attempts by Reiner to keep the identity of "Jane Doe" -- apparently, one AKA is not enough for this con artist -- a judge ruled Nov. 7 that the company had to disclose the names associated with the account from which the email, Exhibit A, was sent. Said Cody: "This is not an abuse case or a witness protection case." Fort Lauderdale attorney Ari Glazer, representing Constant Contact, sent Cody an email Nov. 17 that said the company -- whose policy states that you need to use a real name in their emails -- identified the "Sandra Lopez" email as an account associated with Vanessa Brito, Heidy Medina and Myami Marketing, referring to Brito's life partner and corporate firm, respectively. He also disclosed two addresses associated with the account, Brito's parents home west of Sweetwater and her address with Medina in Northwest Miami-Dade near the Broward County line. "Constant Contact does not know which of these 2 individuals is responsible for composing or sending the e-mail," Glazer wrote.
It doesn't matter. They are one and the same. It was a Brito bomb. Gotcha!
Now, Cody filed a new defamation lawsuit against Brito, Medina and Myami Marketing based on the information disclosed and among the things he asks for in his stack of discovery documents is the list of how many people got the email and who they are, who paid for the digital missive and how, and all communication between the client and the company about the creation of the email. "They're going to say 'They're just after the list,'" Cody said, referring to the fact that Bennett has been in a long, heated battle to get the town's email list -- which he is entitled to, even if it is for his own political purposes. "But it's more to gauge the size of the damages," Cody said. "Let's say the thing went out to 10,000 people in Miami Lakes. Having to defend himself against such a large number of people who know him gives a potential for much greater damages than if she sends a random email to someone in Washington State who doesn't care."
Separately, Cody has asked the town of Miami Lakes for copies of the statements of all the credit cards used by the mayor and his office. But he may have to subpeona those, too, since he asked a month ago and he has still not gotten it. "And it should be a fairly simple matter going to the finance department, opening a file, making a copy and giving it to me." Ladra suspects they may be dragging their feet because the payment is there. As established, Brito is broke all the time and Pizzi, who likes to get freebies at town restaurants, did not yet have his big $200,000-a-year job in Medley. I can't see him taking this out of his own pocket if he can pay for it out of the city's general fund. Cody might want to get that in the discovery with Constant Contact instead.
Among the other things he asked for that Ladra will be eager to see is every email sent out from that same account since January, 2011. Who knows what other evil emails could lurk there? Maybe another email from some other false name, like "Blanca Rosa" who says she lives in the city of Miami and urges her neighbors to vote for Kate Callahan in her recently failed race for city of Miami commission. And if that email doesn't have a political advertisement disclaimer, then Brito may face a whole new slew of election law violation complaints and, maybe, lawsuits.
Ladra called Brito when she learned of the ruling, you know, to gloat, er, I mean get her side of the story. Miami Voice Chief of Security Ivette Lisa Taylor answered Brito's new phone, and I guess that it's new because had my name come out on the contacts list, nobody would have answered. I calmly explained the reason for the call and if she could get a message to Brito -- or Medina for that matter, since she was named in the lawsuit individually as well -- and Taylor was cordial and fine. She suggested I call Michael Pizzi. "He's handling that." Oh, really? In hindsight, I suspect she could have been answering Brito's phone to keep at bay all the people las malas lenguas say Vanessa owes money to from Callahan race. Because in less than five minutes, Taylor called back.
"Vanessa told me to tell you that she wouldn't speak to you if you were the last blogger on Earth," she said, and I almost spit out my Starbuck's. "She says you better stop calling her and her family," referring to Medina, who is also named in the court documents as an account holder at Constant Contact and is treasurer of the Miami Voice PAC. I began to explain to Taylor -- who needs to be spoken to slowly lest she's had a few forbidden cocktails already -- that Brito is, indeed, a public figure and that if she tries to fool said public again for her political gain (or her friends' and allies'), I would have to ethically call her, again, to give her an opportunity to set the record straight or provide context. All she has to do is say no comment. But she hung up on me before I could add that she can say no comment with style, ala "not even if you were the last blogger on Earth." Funny stuff.
Coincidentally, she could now face the same kind of reluctant subject as a blogger herself. Last week, the Huffington Post announced that Brito would be a contributor to their new Miami edition. That was a surprise to most people who know her well, many of whom are taking bets on how many weeks the arrangement will last before she blows it completely after exhausting her many patent excuses.
I wonder if those people at Huffington did any kind of vetting -- or even a simple google search -- of their Miami staff line-up, which also includes Miami-Dade Commissioner Xavier Suarez, City of Miami Beach Commissioner Jerry Libbin, Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade, University of Florida wildlife ecologist Dr. Frank J. Mazzotti, PR guru and queen of the night Tara Solomon; NBC Miami Nitecap host Peter Bailey, "smart growth" blogger Tony Garcia and Miami Museum of Contemporary Art Director Bonnie Clearwater. Because one of Brito's first pieces is an analysis of the politically-connected gaming industry's interest in our community. Hmmm...
I wonder if she's doing any professional political work with or for the multiple lobbyists and consultants involved (more on that later), which would also raise the question of whether or not the blog entries should come with a paid political advertisement disclaimer.
Maybe Brito should have written her blog or column under the name Sandra Lopez.