DNC Refused Roy Black as Miami Host Because of "Wild Reputation" and "Unsavory" Clientele

Roy Black, arguably South Florida's most famous defense attorney, was judged too risky to host a Democratic event in Miami by Debbie Wasserman Schultz's Democratic National Committee.
Roy Black, arguably South Florida's most famous defense attorney, was judged too risky to host a Democratic event in Miami by Debbie Wasserman Schultz's Democratic National Committee.
Photos: Travis Cohen/Gage Skidmore via Flickr CC

When Justin Bieber gets in a jam or things get a little too wild for Girls Gone Wild head honcho Joe Francis, they know who to call: Miami criminal defense attorney Roy Black. The famed attorney has represented scores of celebrity clients, appeared on The Law Firm (a short-lived legal version of The Apprentice), and taught advanced criminal evidence for the past four decades at the University of Miami's law school. 

But emails released Friday by WikiLeaks show his resumé wasn't enough to impress staffers with the Democratic National Committee, who were vetting him as a possible event host for a Miami shindig.

Staffers worried about Black's "wild reputation," noted his "parties with flagged celebrities," and wrote that he "has defended unsavory characters," including shock jock Rush Limbaugh, admitted steroid user Alex Rodriguez, and billionaire sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

"I lean no to hosting but could be ok with attending," DNC compliance officer Alan Reed wrote.

"Agree - no hosting, fine to attend," White House adviser Bobby Schmuck concurred.

Black is among several Miami-area heavy hitters mentioned by name in the leaked emails, which suggest DNC officials were paranoid about potential donors and event hosts becoming liabilities for the Democratic presidential nominee, presumed to be Hillary Clinton.

Reached Monday, Black called the snub "perfectly understandable."

"I take no offense by it. It all makes good sense," he told New Times. "The general public associates criminal lawyers with our clients... It would just give the Republicans another outrageous accusation." 

Black wasn't the only powerful Miamian to face the Spanish Inquisition before hosting an event. Staffers also looked at having a party fronted by real-estate power couple Craig Robins and Jackie Soffer but expressed concerns about recent litigation they'd each been involved in, including a spat about the invoicing of a private jet and a dispute about a failed Las Vegas casino project

"They both have their own lawsuits which they ended up settling and paying large amounts, especially Jackie," DNC compliance director Kevin Snowden wrote. Schmuck agreed that he "would prefer to keep hosts cleaner than this."

Former Miami Beach Commissioner Jonah Wolfson also was vetted as a potential donor, with concerns about his controversial Relentless for Progress PAC, which used the same acronym as "request for proposal" and was subsequently investigated for ethics violations. DNC staffers decided they were cool with taking his $20,000 donation because he was never charged or convicted. He wired the money May 18, according to emails.

One potential wealthy Miami donor got a flat-out no from the DNC brass: Bass Museum president George Lindemann Jr., a millionaire felon who went to prison in the '90s after ordering the killing of his failed show horse. Emails show Lindemann was vetted in May as a possible donor and event attendee for presidential events, but political strategists were less than enthusiastic.

"Sorry man," Schmuck wrote. "He fails for everything."

A spokesman said Lindemann didn't wish to comment on the emails.


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