Former North Miami Mayor Kevin Burns abandoned his campaign for U.S. Senate to run for state Senate, but maybe he should concentrate on getting his financial house in order first. This past June 28, Florida's division of elections notified Burns via letter that his bank did not honor a $1,781 check he used to pay for a candidate filing fee. In addition, he left a negative balance of $75,920 on a federal campaign account stemming from a personal loan he gave himself.
"He is only running because he needs a job," says Gwen Margolis, his opponent in the state Senate August primary. "He is not making any money, from what I can determine."
Margolis is a former county commissioner and ex-state senator.
Burns did not return two calls seeking comment last week, but on Monday stormed into the New Times office blaming Margolis for planting a false story. He acknowledges a check was bounced, but says it was for the U.S. Senate campaign that he abandoned. He provided documentation to show the check bounced because the signature was deemed "irregular" by Transatlantic Bank. Of Margolis, he said: "She is a desperate career politician distorting the facts for self interest."
Being a state senator pays $29,000 a year, which would give either Burns or Margolis something to live on. Burns owes more than $400,000, which includes a mortgage and judgments against him. We'll add Margolis's debts to this post later. Both are Democrats
Moreover, Burns, is facing foreclosure on his residence, and this past April, he was ordered to pay a default judgment of $118,000 in a civil lawsuit he lost.
Burns says he has been working as a business consultant
has not worked a full-time job since he left North Miami City Hall 18 months ago. Except for a side business selling Christmas trees, the gig as mayor was his only source of income, according to his 2009 financial disclosure statement.
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"I think people are very concerned when political figures have fiscal problems," Margolis says. "It should be a consideration for anyone when they go to the polls."
In an interview before his check bounced, Burns informed Riptide he was close to finalizing a loan modification agreement that will allow him to keep the house in the tony Keystone Point community he shares with his partner
, a stay-at-home-dad to their and 7-year-old daughter. (In an interview on Monday, Burns said his partner is not a stay-at-home dad, but wouldn't disclose the man's profession. The Senate candidate added he intends to repay all of his debts.
"I am not a millionaire like other candidates," Burns said. "I have daily challenges in this economy."
Later, in assailing Margolis, he added: "If I was a career politician who could not run on my current record, then I would resort to negative campaigning as my opponent has."