North Miami Mayor Andre Pierre's Bus Bench Blunder

On September 20, former North Miami Beach Mayor Myron Rosner did the perp walk. His crime: allegedly accepting thousands in free campaign ads on bus benches from a company whose owner told prosecutors that the mayor had pressured him with promises to renew his contract.

Rosner is in big trouble, with three felonies and a handful of misdemeanors awaiting trial — but he might not be the only politico to fall over bus bench ads.

North Miami Mayor Andre Pierre is facing virtually identical allegations in an open complaint filed with the Florida Elections Commission.

Carol Keys, a North Miami attorney who lost a mayoral race to Pierre last year, confirms to Riptide that she filed the complaint last October alleging that Pierre violated virtually the same rules as Rosner.

A spokeswoman for the FEC says the group's policy forbids discussing complaints, but sources tell Riptide that an investigation into Keys's allegations is open. Pierre didn't respond to a message left with a spokeswoman or an email seeking comment.

Here's the gist of Keys's beef: In late 2010, Pierre plastered at least 29 North Miami bus benches with "Happy Holidays" ads that featured his smiling face, without reporting any campaign cash spent on the ads.

Then, in February, most of the benches switched to Pierre campaign ads; he reported spending only $1,600 on those, Keys claims, even though the benches should cost around $300 each.

The company that made the ads, Martin Outdoor Media, is the same firm prosecutors say Rosner pressured into giving him virtually the same "Happy Holidays" ads and campaign ads on his city's bus benches. (Scott Martin, the company's owner, didn't return Riptide's call.)

So, will prosecutors throw the book at Pierre as they did at Rosner? It might depend on what Scott Martin tells them; Rosner's most serious charges aren't for not failing to report his free ads, but for allegedly using his position to pressure Martin into the gifts.

Did Pierre throw his weight around too? If so, we might have another mayoral mug shot to look forward to.

 
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