Your Guide To The Mysterious Political Committees Raising Big Bucks For Miami Candidates
With one day left before the primary, we're going to miss the proliferation of groups with cryptic, yet patriotic, monikers spreading misinformation, collecting bundles of cash and absentee ballots, and getting out the vote for their candidates. There are so many political action commitees and electioneering communications organizations out there that it is hard to keep track of them.
Don't worry -- Banana Republican compiled this handy dandy political committee list for voters.
For instance, there's Big Vote For Justice, which is supporting criminal defense lawyer Rod Vereen for Miami-Dade State Attorney. But don't get them confused with Citizens For Justice, which is placing all its bets on the incumbent, Katherine Fernandez Rundle. Then there are the committees completely funded by out-of-state interests with ironic names such as Florida Freedom, which has been financed with $200,000 from a single entity based in New York City. It's enough to make our head spin.
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Here's your quick reference guide:
Big Vote For Justice
Established: June 6
Chairman: Charles Flowers
Total Raised: $28,000
When we contacted Flowers, he gave us a vague explanation as to who his committee is supporting. "We're whoever stands for justice," he said. After some prodding, Flowers said Big Vote For Justice is definitely backing Vereen. The Miami Herald reported that the committee recently sent campaign mailers to Miami-Dade Democrats accusing Rundle of accepting $110,000 in contributions in the past three elections from "off shore" companies in Puetro Rico.
Citizens For Justice
Established: June 15
Chairman: Robert Hertzberg
Total Raised: $78,800
Top Donor: law firm Greenberg Traurig ($25,000)
Hertzberg, a Miami attorney, tells us Citizens For Justice is reminding the people of Miami-Dade County about the "solid record against crime-fighting by Rundle." He adds: "She's been doing a wonderful job."
Citizens For A Safer Miami-Dade
Established: June 25
Chairwoman: Christina Boitel
Total Raised: $22,800
Top Donors: Miami Tech Maintenance ($10,000) and political action committee Reform Now ($10,000)
Boitel did not return a phone call seeking comment. Although the group appears to be backing Vereen as well. On July 16, Citizens For A Safer Miami-Dade donated $2,500 to Big Vote For Justice. It also paid $2,125 to New Birth Broadcasting Corp. for radio ads targeting African American voters.
Citizens For Clarity
Established: April 20, 2011
Chairwoman: Illeana Llorella
Total Raised: $172,250
Top Donor: Hialeah businessman Jesus Navarro ($17,000)
Llorella did not return a phone call seeking comment, but the committee's campaign reports show dozens of payments totaling $147,000 to a company owned by Sasha Tirador, a campaign consultant who is working for County Commission Chairman Joe Martinez, who is running for mayor against incumbent Carlos Gimenez.
Citizens For Lower Property Taxes
Established: May 24
Chairwoman: Miami accountant Monica Lopez Cantera-Serralta
Total Raised: $193,500
Top Donor: Tallahassee-based Common Sense Leadership Committee ($65,000)
Lopez Cantera-Serralta did not return phone calls, but it seems like a reasonable guess that she's related to former state Rep. Carlos Lopez Cantera, who is running for county property appraiser against incumbent Pedro Garcia. The committee has spent $84,000 on radio and TV spots on Spanish language media outlets.
Citizens For Progress And Integrity
Established: Oct. 7, 2011
Chairman: Andy Perez of Miami
Total Raised: $119,000
Top Donor: Tampa-based Job Growth For South Florida ($9,000)
Perez could not be reached for comment, though we're pretty sure his group's purpose is to help Mayor Gimenez get reelected, since a majority of the donors are the same folks who have donated to his reelection campaign and his PAC Common Sense Now.
Government For The People
Established: May 3
Chairman: Ernesto Martinez Jr. of Miami
Total Raised: $94,000
Top Donor: Tampa-based Job Growth For South Florida ($25,000) and Miami Marlins ($25,000)
Martinez did not return two messages on his office voicemail. Judging from the big donation from the Marlins and other large contributions from County Hall players like lobbyist Ronald Book, Government For The People exists to make sure incumbent county commissioners Bruno Barreiro, Barbara Jordan, Audrey Edmonson, and Dennis Moss don't lose their jobs to the slate backed by billionaire car dealer Norman Braman.
Miami-Dade Citizens For Real Reform
Established: May 11, 2011
Chairman: Kavin Davis of Miami Gardens
Total Raised: $94,640
Top Donor: Miami Marlins ($20,000)
After twice assuring us he would call us back to tell us about his committee, we never heard from Davis. But the donation from the Marlins as well as the dough collected from companies that do business with county government indicates Miami-Dade Citizens For Real Reform is backing the folks who are most reluctant to reform county hall (i.e. Barreiro, Jordan, Edmonson, and Moss).
Established: July 23
Chairman: David Ramba of Tallahassee
Total Raised: $42,000
Top Donor: Tallahassee-based political action committee Teachers United For Better Schools ($15,000)
Ramba did not return a phone call seeking comment. Your guess is as good as ours.
Established: June 20
Chairman: Andy Madtes of North Miami Beach
Total Raised: $200,000
Top Donor: New York City-based political action committee Unite Here ($200,000)
Madtes did not return phone calls. From the committee's expenditures, we were able to figure out that Florida Freedom supports Oliver Gilbert, a lawyer and Miami Gardens councilman, who is now running for mayor.
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