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As our great Banana Republic of Miami-Dade County gets ready to celebrate Independence Day, I decided to scour the campaign financial reports of Mayor Carlos Alvarez and the seven county commissioners running for reelection. After all, nothing is more patriotic than greasing the wheels of politics. I matched up names and addresses to figure out who is giving bundles of campaign checks to the incumbents. Using that information, I researched how these people benefit from county government and, as they say, put two-and-two together.

Today, I’m focusing on Magnum Construction Management Corp., or MCM, a construction firm owned by a family of builders who have given thousands of dollars to Alvarez and the county commissioners. According to state incorporation records, MCM’s officers are Jorge, Juan, Raul and Pedro Munilla, who along with their relatives Fernando, Jacquelyn, Laura, Madeline, Norka, and Pedro Jr., each gave the $500 maximum to Commissioner Joe Martinez’s campaign for a combined total of $5000. Entities listing the same address as MCM headquarters at 6201 SW 70 Street gave him a combined $2500. And that’s just one commissioner. The Munillas showered a grand total of $34,000 to reelect Alvarez, Carlos Gimenez, Bruno Barreiro, Audrey Edmonson, Natacha Seijas and Barbara Jordan.

Now why would a local family-owned business feel the urge to splurge so much cash on politicians? Well, MCM Corp. is one of the most proactive construction firms competing for county contracts. This past February, the county commission rejected the lowest bidder and awarded MCM a $125 million contract to do improvements to the Miami International Airport's north terminal. In 2006, the company won a $4.8 million settlement from the county to drop its claim for $14.8 million in unpaid work at the North Terminal. The Munilla enterprise also has a history of piling on more charges. After being awarded a $25 million contract to build the extension of Metrorail from Okeechobee Road to the Palmetto Expressway, MCM charged Miami-Dade Transit an additional $3 million to finish the job.

Considering the multi-millions of dollars in county money MCM relies on, it’s no wonder the Munillas spend thousands of dollars supporting county commissioners.

In the coming weeks, Banana Republican will feature other big campaign donors and their ties to County Hall. So stay tuned.

-- Francisco Alvarado

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