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Robaina, Gimenez, and Llorente Got Their Soft Money Working Hard

Uncle Luke, the man whose booty-shaking madness once

made the U.S. Supreme Court stand up for free speech, gets as nasty as he wants

to be for Miami New Times. This week, Luke -- who is a candidate to

replace more-boring-than-bread-pudding ex-Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez on May

24 -- follows the money financing his opponents.



Before even filing his first campaign contribution

report, my opponent Julio Robaina boasted April 1 on his Facebook page about

raising more than $600,000. So far, the Hialeah mayor and the two other

so-called front-runners in the mayor's race -- county Commissioner Carlos Gimenez

and former state Rep. Marcelo Llorente -- have raised a combined $1.2

million.That kind of money is nothing to brag about. You

have to ask: What do the people who provide that cash expect in

return?


But the money given directly to these candidates is

only part of the game. It's policed, and contributors are limited to $500 each.

Then there's the soft money -- from political action committees -- with no

contribution limit. Though not expressly tied to candidates, PACs often do the

dirty work.

Consider

Common Sense Now, a PAC chaired by Gimenez. It was launched this past November

as a way to restore sanity to county government after then-Mayor Carlos Alvarez

had stirred things up. The group has collected $277,000, including sizable

donations from individuals and corporations that have given to Gimenez's mayoral

effort and do business with the county. For instance, real estate developer

Jeffrey Berkowitz, who raised $5,500 for Gimenez, gave Common Sense $15,000 this

past December. High-end builder Coastal Construction Group forked over

$10,000.

Since

Alvarez was recalled March 15, the PAC has spent money on consultants who are

working on Gimenez's campaign. Among them is Florida International University

professor Dario Moreno, who has been paid $22,623.

Then there's the Truth for Our Community, a PAC

chaired by Robaina buddy and Hialeah Housing Authority executive director Julio

Ponce. It took up the Hialeah pol's efforts against slot machines in Miami-Dade

and term limits in Hialeah. It has raised more than $400,000, at least some from

people and companies that do business with the county.

And

Llorente chairs a PAC too. It's called A New Day in Miami-Dade and had raised

$17,000 as of March 31.

Who is

controlling this race? The same developers, lobbyists, charter school owners,

and corporate barons responsible for the collapse of the real estate market and

the public school system. Greed, not reform, is driving this special

election.You have

to follow the money to know what is really going on.

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