Even though Ralph Arza recently popped up at one of her fundraisers and at her campaign headquarters in Hialeah, Perla Tabares Hantman insists the disgraced former state representative is not working on her re-election campaign for Miami-Dade School Board. "He has no involvement as far as I know," Tabares Hantman tells Banana Republican. "He has nothing to do with my campaign."
We can't blame Tabares Hantman for putting some distance between herself and the man whom land use lawyer Stanley Price once dubbed the 800-pound gorilla of Doral. Ever since he was forced to resign from the Florida House in 2006 for making expletive-laced threats to another state representative, Arza has been trying to regain relevance.
After his fall, Arza ingratiated himself with Julio Robaina, helping Hialeah's mayor consolidate power in La Ciudad Que Progresa. At least three sources familiar with Hialeah politics have told Banana Republican that you have to go through Arza in order to gain an audience with Robaina. And since Hialeah's new political godfather recently endorsed Tabares Hantman, holding a fundraiser for her at Shula's Hotel in Miami Lakes this past May 13, it was no surprise Arza was among the invited guests.
According to Tabares Hantman's most recent campaign financial disclosure report, Moving Mountains Strategies Inc. -- a company run by Arza's cousin Hugo -- donated $500 to her campaign, as well as providing her with district maps. The video below shows Arza talking with volunteers for about 18 minutes at Tabares Hantman's headquarters in Hialeah this past July 24. He then leaves with an overweight bald man wearing a Tabares Hantman campaign T-shirt. Maybe Arza, who now resides in Palm Beach County, was passing through Hialeah for un cafecito y churros.
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Tabares Hantman says she can't prevent Arza from going to her headquarters. "It's an open place," she says. "Anyone can come by and visit."