I'd heard some potentially disturbing things about the Alvarez campaign -- that his initial fundraising strategy was to tap the 3000 cops in his department, which caused some to complain they felt pressured to contribute. I checked. About $45,000, almost a quarter of his contributions through January, was donated by people identifying themselves as law-enforcement officers and their spouses. One department source, who didn't want to be identified, says it's understood that if you're a ranking officer who relies on promotions for career advancement, you'd better attend a fundraiser.
"I heard that at the very, very beginning of my campaign," Alvarez responds candidly. "I made sure to tell my command staff that this was not MDPD-related, and everything I do is conducted outside the office. I made it known that I did not want supporters inside the department to do anything to make subordinates feel pressured."
County Police Director Carlos Alvarez: Some say he squandered a great political opportunity, but he begs to differ
I additionally wanted to check what role Camilo Padreda was playing in his fundraising. Padreda was a powerful Republican money machine in the Eighties. He's also a convicted felon who defrauded the federal government and has admitted in court to bribing public officials to vote for everything from county zoning changes to a Miami city manager candidate. "He's a man I've known for 25 years," Alvarez says with a sigh. "He offered to help. He is one of a thousand people who is helping me. I didn't hire him, he's not my fundraiser, and he's not my campaign manager. And yes, he's had his ups and downs over the years."
Fair enough. After all, one thing is clear: Alvarez needs all the help he can get. Otherwise he really will be our Wesley Clark.