Anyone who followed the recall movement
versus former Miami-Dade County Commissioner Natacha Seijas knows the group that sought her ouster calls itself Miami
Voice and is chaired by activist Vanessa Brito. Miami Lakes dentist David Bennett, who supported Seijas,
certainly knew about Britto's Miami Voice when
he incorporated a non-profit organization with precisely the same name back in
Bennett even told New Times he planned to sell the
rights to his Miami Voice so he could raise funds for a
recall drive of Miami Lakes Mayor Michael Pizzi that never
materialized. Yet in spite of his maneuver, Bennett didn't take kindly to Brito circulating an email accusing him of hijacking Miami Voice's name to confuse Miami Lakes voters. Now he's suing her for defamation.
Last week, Bennett sued Brito, her company and her girlfriend Heidy Medina for defamation. He is being represented by lawyer Steve Cody, who coincidentally, also represented Seijas' against the recall, as well as Brito in a separate unrelated case.
"We sent the email saying Bennett and his group were committing fraud by using our name," Brito explains. "The real Miami Voice has a right to express its opinion, especially when it involves the use of our name for things we don't approve of."
Cody says Brito can't publicly accuse his client of a crime without evidence. The lawyer defended Bennett's use of Miami Voice even though it seems obvious the only reason to take the name was to antagonize Brito. "Vanessa doesn't have any proof Dr. Bennett has committed fraud," Cody says. "All he did was register the name with the division of corporations."
The e-mail circulated by Brito was purportedly signed by a Miami Lakes resident named Sandra Lopez, whom Cody contends doesn't exist. It alleges the name hijacking was "part of Bennett's ongoing and disgusting efforts to help Natacha Seijas by spreading lies, misinformation and deception."
In a motion to dismiss the complaint, Brito contends the lawsuit against her is "nothing more than a frivolous fishing expedition designed to harass and annoy by a plaintiff that has evidently made it his personal's goal to seek retribution against political opponents."