Game On

In Miami Beach, "introducing ethics reform" is really a sneaky way to take down your political rival.

Weithorn has her own ammunition: She proposed legislation, which would bar political campaign consultants from lobbying on behalf of city vendors. That would prevent Wolfson's campaign manager Custin from doing business in Miami Beach. According to the city's lobbyist registration log, American Traffic Solutions and World Waste Services, two companies that vied for city contracts, each paid Custin $20,000 for his services.

There are other motives for Tobin and Weithorn to want to weaken Custin's influence: He also happens to be running the campaign for Exposito, the opponent of Tobin's buddy Karlton.

City hall insiders note Custin is not particularly liked in his profession because of his abrasive style. This past December, Custin caused a stir when he sent a mass email to other lobbyists urging them not to support the re-election of state Rep. David Rivera. Custin wrote, "By the time the Republican primary takes place in 2010, the electorate will be made clearly aware of Rivera's horrible record of using his political positions to put his own personal interests over that of this community."

Custin was also linked to the disappearance of some absentee ballots from Hialeah voters, who generally supported Raul Martinez's congressional run against Lincoln Diaz-Balart. Custin ran the congressman's campaign.

But at the meeting, when Weithorn spoke about her proposal, Custin piped up. "I don't know whether to be flattered or insulted," he informed the commissioners, "so I will keep it neutral." He also dropped a bombshell: He claimed Karlton had paid him $15,000 in cash in 2007 to consult on Tobin's campaign before the rift with Wolfson occurred. In Florida, it is illegal for one person or entity to contribute more than $500 to a candidate.

"Fred paid me directly," Custin tells New Times. "I would advise Fred, and he would take the advice to Ed."

Tobin says he never knew Custin worked on his campaign: "You have to discuss that with Fred."

Karlton declined to talk about the $15,000, saying, "I don't want to dignify anything David and Jonah have to say. They are who they are."

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