Richard Dunn, Miami City Commission Candidate, Spent Thousands On Terrible Food
Pollo Tropical. Snapper. TGIF Friday's. Dunkin Donuts. McDonald's.
Miami City Commission candidate Richard Dunn loves him some food. And, according to yesterday's campaign finance report -- which arrived three weeks late -- he will spend, and spend freely when it comes to terrible food. While other candidates sashay and schmooze through Miami's fine-dining panorama, looking to squeeze out a full dollars from a wealthy donor, Dunn and his staff goes to Wendy's and spends $6.41.
Now, that may seem like a paltry sum. And indeed it is. But those receipts for $6.41 add up, and over the last three months Dunn has spent more than $2,500 on food -- most of it the junk variety.
"I got a big campaign," Dunn told Riptide. "It's not just me; it's my staff. You think I eat all that food by myself? My team, they need to eat. They be out there in the hot sun all day and we buy different things for them. They work hard."
Indeed, Dunn, the frontrunner for the District 5 seat, and his staff sometimes hit the restaurant circuit more than once in a single day. On August 26, his campaign poured $121.71 into Jackson's Soul Food, Wendy's, TGIF's, and the Blue Collar restaurant.
Then a few weeks later on September 13, he and his team dolled up their eating slate a little, plopping down $275.80 on food at Cafe Prima, Blue Collar, and someplace called "Margaret Restaurant." As far as Riptide can tell, there isn't any Margaret Restaurant in Miami -- but there is one in Fairhaven Massachusetts. He patronized this restaurant again on September 23, dumping $68.67.
This wasn't the only oddity on Dunn's form, however. The candidate's pretty sparse with the details. He doesn't list any address anywhere for any expense. ("But I have the receipts," Dunn explained. "We'll post the receipts on my account.")
The Miami Herald this morning questioned $224 he gave to FLP on September 11 for his campaign headquarters. Dunn didn't put down the office's address. He also funneled $1,500 to Charles Kabbaby on August 20 for "rent," though again no address is listed.
Harshly criticizing the Herald to Riptide, Dunn said that money was for his second campaign office at 626 Northwest 62nd Street. "The most important thing is that I didn't violate any campaign finance regulation...This is where my people work."
(UPDATE: Richard Dunn is now being investigated for paying his workers in cash -- a campaign finance violation.)
Either way, money issues have long bedeviled Dunn. When he was an assistant pastor at Drake Memorial Baptist Church, he confessed that he'd used church funds in his personal life. Dunn paid the church back.
What's more, he and his wife owe $1,214.88 in property taxes from 2012, and court records show his wife filed for bankruptcy in January of 2012 to save their Liberty City home. After being denied twice, she succeeded upon the third try. According to those documents, she owed $419,000 in debt, but only had assets worth $104,000.
When we asked Dunn about this in August, he responded: "We are like millions of Americans who have upside down mortgages," Dunn says. "How many times has Donald Trump filed for bankruptcy? Yet he just bought the Doral Resort & Spa. My wife and I are still gainfully employed so we're going to be just fine."
Indeed, while other candidates haven't spent as much as Dunn on food -- they also haven't raised as much. And to a degree, Dunn's charisma and unorthodox methods have worked. He's proven himself to be an incredible fundraiser, outpacing everyone else in the race.
During this last quarter, he raised more than $71,000, fifty percent more than the next best-supported contender, Assistant Miami-Dade Public Defender Keon Hardemon, who's only received $51,404. Meanwhile, Jacqui Colyer, a Children's Trust executive, has netted $35,000, and substitute teacher Robert Malone has gotten nearly $9,000.
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