Miami-Dade Commission Candidate Was Once Fired for Allegedly Watching Porn on Government LaptopEXPAND
Florida House of Representatives

Miami-Dade Commission Candidate Was Once Fired for Allegedly Watching Porn on Government Laptop

Miami is effectively run by an oligopoly of useless, competing, familial political dynasties: There are the Regalados, the Hardemons, the Suarezes, the Carollos, the Diaz de la Portillas, and so on. To make a clichéd reference, Miami politics are like Game of Thrones if every player had shrapnel lodged in their brains.

This brings us to the Barreiro clan, a multidecade political dynasty in Miami led by thick-necked doofus Bruno, a former Miami-Dade County commissioner who is about to get flattened in a Republican congressional primary; and his half-brother Gus, who is running for county commission mere weeks after his sister-in-law Zorraida failed so hard she made national news by losing to a non-Cuban, progressive gringa in a Little Havana county commission race.

Because we're stuck dealing with yet another head of the multipronged Barreiro hydra once more, it's a good time to rehash Gus Barreiro's old career, including the utterly hilarious time he was fired from the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) in 2009 for using a government laptop to watch a bunch of pornography.

Reached via phone today, Barreiro stood by his record as a legislator and DJJ official and maintained he was "set up" by foes inside the department who were upset he'd exposed a group of unmarked child graves dug by the state at a reform school decades earlier. Barreiro said someone had "taken over" his desktop and searched for porn remotely while he sat by and watched.

"I was in a hotel room, my cursor was moving, I didn’t understand why," Barreiro told New Times today. "That’s just the bottom line." He added, "I don't think I was set up; it was something that I know. My co-workers told me that something was going to happen to me; they said the department thought I was embarrassing them."

Barreiro's current bid for county commission seems to be directly tied to an ongoing fight to build a gigantic mall. The Miami Herald yesterday outlined how the Canadian real-estate development firm Triple Five is bankrolling Barreiro's campaign, seemingly because his campaign opponent, the actually competent Daniella Levine Cava, voted against Triple Five's plans to build the world's largest mall in Miami-Dade.

The Herald notes that since Levine Cava's vote, people associated with Triple Five have donated $7,500 to Barreiro directly — more than 60 percent of his total cash haul right now — and have also dumped a staggering $100,000 into a Barrerio-aligned political action committee, which is a seriously huge chunk of money for a county race. In terms of money, Barreiro's campaign could be accurately called "undemocratic" and entirely motivated by spiteful billionaires. Such is the state of American democracy in 2018.

Barreiro told New Times he reached out to the Triple Five group because he supports the mall and believes it will "create jobs." Levine Cava said in the past that she voted against the mall because most of the jobs would constitute part-time, low-wage work. Asked if he thought the donations from Triple Five were clearly transactional, Barreiro swore that campaign money had no influence over his vote. He also pointed out that Levine Cava is still out-fundraising him.

Because he has jumped back into county politics, let's revisit how exactly Barreiro lost his former job at DJJ in 2009: by getting caught viewing at least 382 pornographic images on a government-issued laptop and then claiming he'd been framed. The story pops up every time he has mounted a new campaign for political office, which it should, because it's both indicative of his judgment as a public official and also really, really funny.

Barreiro was a Florida state representative from 1998 to 2006. As a legislator, he had something of a Libertarian-Republican bent: He was pro-NRA and anti-abortion and had a horrid environmental record, but as former New Times staff writer Jim DeFede noted in 2001 (in a column quite rightfully calling Barreiro "enigmatic"), he was also progressive on LGBTQ issues and believed in lowering incarceration rates in the state prison system. He even received an award in 2005 for his work on the case of Martin Lee Anderson, a black child killed in a Florida prison system "boot camp." At the same time, Barreiro was also considered a friend to the Church of Scientology and at one point sponsored an anti-mental-health-care bill pushed by the church.

(Asked today why he supported the bill, he said he believes that children are "overmedicated" and that too many kids are being diagnosed with attention deficit disorder. Though the bill was largely assailed by medical professionals at the time, he said he stands by it.)

From the Florida Legislature, he hopped over to working at a government contractor called Associated Marine Industries before moving to the state's DJJ as chief of residential programs in March 2008. But he didn't last long.

According to a 13-page complaint the Herald posted online in 2009, Barreiro's bosses at the DJJ caught him accessing "several hundred sexually explicit images from the internet" while logged into his Dell Latitude 100L laptop under his government username "barreirogx." Barreiro had signed a document promising he wouldn't use the computer for anything "personal" before the government handed it over to him. A forensic search of his hard drive revealed 382 pornographic images — 280 in his "temporary" downloads folder and 102 that had been deleted but recovered by investigators.

They said Barreiro had logged into the website AdultFriendFinder.com under the handle "cubancigar107" (Barreiro was born in Cuba and represented the Florida House's 107th district) and spent a good bit of time looking up users' (sexually explicit) profile images. Investigators said he watched a pornographic video on AdultFriendFinder at 3:58 one November morning. They also scanned his office desktop computer but did not find any porn there.

Investigators confronted Barreiro and, at first, showed him innocuous images he'd accessed on the government laptop during the day, including random Facebook photos. Barreiro said he recognized the images and agreed he'd viewed them. One of the images, viewed around 8:45 one November 2008 evening, was a family member.

But then Barreiro's bosses showed him the porn they said he'd accessed and said the images were downloaded during the same session in which Barrerio already admitted to using his laptop to look at the random Facebook pics.

"I don't know how the hell that got on my computer," Barreiro blurted out. When investigators said the images were downloaded at basically the same time as the harmless photos he already admitted to viewing, Barreiro responded by saying that was "really interesting."

Barreiro has long maintained someone "set him up" and claimed he often let other people use his laptop. But investigators noted that on the aforementioned November day in question, he admitted he was traveling in Marianna, Florida, and that it sure seemed improbable that someone else was using his computer in the wee hours of that day while he was out of town.

Throughout the ordeal, Barreiro maintained that he did nothing wrong and that he was possibly being persecuted because of his activism for children being abused in the DJJ system.

Barreiro still says the ordeal was a setup because he tipped the Herald off about the unmarked child graves.

"People ask me from time to time, knowing what would have happened, would I still have done it," Barreiro said. "I tell them I would have still called the Miami Herald. These are hundreds of kids out there still buried."

He also added that, in the years since getting fired, he's even more certain he was framed for viewing porn.

"I've learned a lot more about computers since then," he said.

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