After Miami Beach Commissioner Michael Grieco dropped his bid for mayor following a scathing Miami Herald report on his sketchy campaign finances, Beach residents were left with just four candidates to choose from. Two of them haven't raised any money, while former federal prosecutor Dan Gelber has pulled in close to a half-million bucks.
That leaves only one other viable candidate to challenge Gelber: local businessman Daniel Kahn. On his website, Kahn, who runs a promotional swag company, prides himself on his financial skills and "strong business mind." But court records show the 36-year-old New York native has a history of eviction proceedings and lawsuits over debts.
Four of Kahn's former landlords have filed for eviction, though all of the cases were eventually settled and dismissed before he was booted out. The first case came in December 2008, followed by complaints from separate landlords that Kahn had failed to pay rent in February 2012, June 2012, and March 2013.
Kahn tells New Times the cases stemmed from a period of financial instability following a serious back injury and have been properly resolved.
Two lenders have also come after Kahn for debts. In April 2007, Discover Bank filed a complaint saying he owed $1,926.26. The case was dismissed in 2008 but resurfaced in 2009, when the company filed to garnish his wages. The courts approved the garnishment, and Discover finally settled the matter in September 2015.
While that case was still pending, another company took Kahn to court for $6,600. A judge ordered him to pay $7,304 back to Amrapur Overseas, a California-based textile and bedding business, but when he failed to do so, Amrapur also asked to garnish his wages. Court records show the case was settled in April 2016.
Ultimately, Kahn's plight is not all that uncommon. Nearly 40 percent of Americans will live below the poverty line at some point in their lifetime, a crushing situation that pushes many of them into eviction. But given that Kahn is campaigning to lead a city with a $317 million operating budget, his financial history is noteworthy.
Reached by New Times, Kahn said most of his financial troubles began in September 2010 with "a really bad slip-and-fall." Court records confirm he sued the condo association at the Flamingo in 2011 after an incident where he slipped on a puddle of liquid on the stairs. Kahn says he underwent 31 back surgeries and went into debt over his medical bills.
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As for the 2008 eviction suit, Kahn says the case arose when his landlord sold the apartment. The Discover Bank debt resulted from a fraudulent card being opened in his name, he says. (The original case file has been destroyed, according to court records.) The eviction case from February 2012 came about following an argument with his landlord about whether his security deposit could be used as the last month's rent, while the Flamingo eviction filing was the result of an accounting error, he says. The $6,600 he owed Amrapur Overseas resulted from a business dispute with a manufacturer at his promotional company, according to Kahn, who says he never did business with Amrapur. (New Times was unable to independently verify those claims.)
As of now, Gelber seems poised to be the next mayor of Miami Beach. Kahn has raised a little more than 1 percent of the donations pulled in by Gelber, who has both more name recognition and experience.
But Kahn says his various lawsuits shouldn't disqualify him in the minds of voters.
"I'm a fiscally responsible person," he says. "All of this, if you look at the time period, I still went to work, still managed a budget, still oversaw staff at a promotional products company. I was able to turn everything around. I don't think it would be an issue."