Back in 2013, Jeffrey A. Benjamin came in second place to Tomas Regalado in Miami's mayoral race with 10 percent of the vote. You may remember that as the year when Regalado's only real competition, Francis Suarez, abruptly dropped out of the race, leaving Regalado practically unchallenged.
Still, Benjamin was a registered candidate and was held accountable to all campaign rules and regulations. Except he never read those rules. He found reading them a "pain in the butt."
According to the Miami-Dade Ethics Commission, Benjamin filed paperwork claiming that he had a campaign account with Bank of America. Except there was no account. That's what originally tipped the ethics commission off.
Turns out that he was actually running his campaign completely through PayPal. Both lying on campaign forms and not having a proper campaign bank account are violations of state ethics laws.
During the commission's investigation, Benjamin said that he had received instruction about how to open a campaign account from the Clerk of Courts, but said reading those rules was "a pain in the butt."
It also turns out that whatever money Benjamin had in his PayPal account wasn't enough to cover his expenditures. He stiffed two vendors, including the Box Advertising for a mobile electronic billboard and PK Graphics.com for 10,000 palm cards.
"Election laws exist for the purpose of protecting the public from this type of activity," said Ethics Commission Executive Director Joseph Centorino in a statement. "Any candidate who intentionally ignores the requirements for managing a political campaign has no business being a candidate -- never mind an elected official."
Benjamin faced three first-degree misdemeanors but has reached a plea deal. He now must pay the commission $1,000 for the investigation of each charge and must pay back his vendors. He will also serve a year of probation and serve 50 hours of community service.
The investigation actually began before the 2013 election, but Benjamin still managed to attract over 2,500 votes. Much like Lil' Kim had the world's most successful PayPal mixtape, Benjamin might have had the most successful PayPal campaign.
Benjamin, however, has kept his profile up online, posting this video of "the sentiments of Ralph Waldo Emerson," because, "he and I are dreamers in a long lost forgotten world."
Follow Miami New Times on Facebook.
Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.