Late yesterday, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez sacked Al Lorenzo, the campaign consultant who's been by his side since he first ran for elected office eight years ago. The Miami Herald reports Gimenez fired Lorenzo because the election guru didn't tell the mayor that he had contracted a convicted felon to work on the reelection campaign. Lorenzo, whose firm Quantum Results has been paid $71,440 by Gimenez's campaign and his political action commitee, is one of the most prolific and controversial campaign consultants in Miami-Dade.
Back in March, Miami New Times profiled Lorenzo's rise from an unknown banker to powerful political kingmaker. He helped Joe Carrollo win the Miami mayor's seat in 1997; U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio win his first state legislature race in 1999; and Gimenez's first run for county commissioner in 2004.
Lorenzo's removal from the Gimenez campaign comes one week after absentee ballot broker Deisy Cabrera, who has worked with Lorenzo on previous campaigns, was arrested on absentee ballot fraud charges.
State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle recused herself from the probe amid so-far unfounded allegations that one of her campaign consultants had been seen with Cabrera. Lorenzo told the Herald that he has not have any involvement with Cabrera in the Gimenez or Rundle campaigns.
According to the Herald, Rundle -- unlike Gimenez -- will keep Lorenzo on her team, although she asked him to keep his contracted employee, Jerry Ramos, away from her campaign. Ramos, 47, was convicted and sentenced to two years in prison in a 2008 federal case for forging postage stamps. He also has state convictions for credit-card forgery, check forgery and grand theft.
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Lorenzo's critics have long accused him of overstating his value, claiming that his clients often have won in spite of his work. (Rival consultant David Custin, for instance, told us, "He's a better checkers player than he is a chess player.")
In the 2001 Miami mayor's race (when Lorenzo worked for eventual winner Manny Diaz), Maurice Ferre accused the political adviser of bombing voters with calls linking Ferre to Attorney General Janet Reno, one of the most vilified figures in the Cuban exile community
Lorenzo, who could not be reached for comment on Gimenez's move, vehemently denied Ferre's charges and asserted that he provides a valuable service to all his clients, which is why they keep coming back to him.
Indeed, Lorenzo has been busy this election cycle. He is working for 16 judicial candidates, racking up close to $140,000 in consultant fees. Rundle's campaign has paid his firm $63,233.