On May 19, Miami Commissioner Joe Carollo posted this Instagram photo showing him handing out paella alongside county commission candidate Alex Diaz de la Portilla.
On May 19, Miami Commissioner Joe Carollo posted this Instagram photo showing him handing out paella alongside county commission candidate Alex Diaz de la Portilla.
Joe Carollo's Instagram

Joe Carollo Allegedly Fired Staffer for Reporting Illegal Campaigning to Prosecutors

Update 6/8: Before he was fired, Steven Miro was separately under investigation for sexual harassment and allegedly hijacking Commissioner Joe Carollo's email, Carollo's chief of staff tells the Miami Herald.

This past May 11, county commission candidate and longtime GOP insider Alex Diaz de la Portilla glad-handed seniors at the Little Havana Activities and Nutrition Center. Slinging heaping plates of paella right alongside him was Miami Commissioner Joe Carollo, a fellow Trump-backing MAGA warrior who was among Diaz de la Portilla's biggest backers in his failed bid for office.

Three weeks later, this past Monday, Carollo abruptly fired one of his top staffers, Steven Miro, who had worked closely with the commissioner and former Miami mayor throughout a successful fall campaign.

Those two events are closely linked, according to political blogger Elaine del Valle, who reports this morning that Carollo axed Miro because the staffer had reported the commissioner to prosecutors for using city funds and staffers to campaign for Diaz de la Portilla at events such as the Little Havana paella lunch.

Miro's attorney declined to comment on del Valle's report, and Carollo's spokesperson didn't immediately respond to messages from New Times this morning, but one source confirmed the outlines of del Valle's allegations to New Times.

There's no question Carollo fired Miro this past Monday under mysterious circumstances.

"I can confirm that he was unceremoniously fired on Monday," says Matthew Sarelson, the attorney now representing Miro. "While the letter came from Joe, it was handed to him by his chief of staff with no explanation given except 'You're fired.'"

Carollo has had a rocky return to public office since winning the seat last held by his brother Frank. The ex-mayor was berated by a local blogger last month for trying to shame a city employee over the man's arrest record. Carollo followed that up by making a racist joke about fellow Commissioner Ken Russell during a commission meeting. 

Miro was among the most important staffers to help Carollo return to the city commission. Del Valle writes that he "practically ran" Carollo's campaign, and blogger Al Crespo called Miro the commissioner's "enforcer." After the campaign, he worked as Carollo's District 3 liaison.

"He was a dedicated public servant who worked for him during the campaign," Sarelson says. "He's one of these guys who busted his ass for Carollo both during the campaign and as a commissioner." 

When Diaz de la Portilla, a former state senator and member of a local GOP political dynasty, mounted a campaign to replace Bruno Barreiro on the county commission, Carollo quickly became one of Diaz de la Portilla's most prominent backers. The Miami Herald tagged along on the Little Havana campaign stop and noted the two men were leaning into their Trump support on a local level.

"He's not going to go along with established procedures," Carollo told the daily. "There are many groups of lobbyists that don't want to see him there because they can't manipulate him."

That approach didn't end up paying dividends at the ballot box. Diaz de la Portilla came in third behind newcomer Eileen Higgins and Barreiro's wife Zoraida, who will participate in a runoff later this month.

Now, according to del Valle, prosecutors plan to investigate whether Carollo used city funds or his staffers' time to help in Diaz de la Portilla's failed bid. And Miro is considering suing over his termination.

"We're looking into every option on the table at this point," Sarelson says. 

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