In public, Mayor Philip Levine strives to come across as the affable politician, a grinning multimillionaire populist who transitioned from media mogul and major Clinton donor to top dog in Miami Beach.
But as heat has mounted around Levine’s role in raising more than a million dollars for a political action committee, the smile seems to have evaporated — at least in private.
In a series of exclamation-point-laden emails sent from a person account last week, the mayor blasts a pair of formerly supportive local activists for questioning the PAC and hits out at a pair of city commissioners who have stood in his way.
“I would have expected my ‘friends’ to stick up for me, call me out gracefully when they don’t agree but not to try and damage me,” Levine writes. “This is election time!!!”
The emails — forwarded to New Times by a source who asked to remain anonymous — were sent August 20 to Marian and Frank Del Vecchio from a private account linked to Levine elsewhere on the Internet. The Del Vecchio's are a well-known, politically active couple who backed Levine when he was running for office in 2013.
But like many on the Beach, Del Vecchio has loudly questioned a new PAC called Relentless for Progress. Critics have accused Levine and Commissioner Jonah Wolfson of leaning on city vendors to donate thousands; the Miami-Dade Ethics Commission is conducting a probe of the activity.
Wolfson and Levine evidently haven’t enjoyed that pushback. Last week, Wolfson took out multiple full-page Miami Herald ads to attack journalist Michael Putney, who criticized the pair in a column.
Levine, meanwhile, took Del Vecchio to task after the activist sent out a mass email on August 20 that called the PAC an “unethical practice.”
“You threw me under the bus,” Levine wrote. “I am the guy who spent $2 million to clean this place up, doesn’t take a salary or expenses, funding my reelection campaign and spends out of pocket constantly when asked for a million reasons and causes and you gave the impression that I am not ethical. I am hurt and appalled at your email.”
Even more eye-opening, Levine takes a shot at Commissioners Ed Tobin, who tried to get permission to join the city police force, and Deede Weithorn, whose husband has angled for her seat because she’s term-limited. He also lashed out at Mount Sinai Hospital, which was embroiled in a fight over Baptist Health’s effort to open an urgent-care clinic.
“This whole ‘controversy” was created by a commissioner who wants her husband to take over the family business, a disgruntled commissioner who failed his ethics test and cannot be a police officer, and Mt. Sinai, who tried unsuccessfully to coerce us into not allowing Baptist to come to Miami Beach!” wrote Levine, who declined to comment for this article.