Miami Lakes Council Members Under Sunshine Law Investigation After New Times Plea

Well, well, it appears a clandestine bar meeting by three Miami Lakes Town council members has caught the attention of law enforcement officials. One month after Miami New Times asked the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office to investigate Tim Daubert, Nelson Hernandez, and Richard Pulido for allegedly violating the state's sunshine law, public corruption prosecutors have opened a criminal probe.

The Miami Herald reports that assistant state attorney Tim VanderGiesen subpoenaed the town clerk for copies of the minutes and recordings of the Dec. 13 council meeting. This marks the second time in the past year that Pulido and Hernandez are investigated for allegedly breaking state law barring elected officials from communicating with one another in private about a matter they will be voting on.

Here's the photo evidence of what appears to be a meeting at a bar between Pulido, Hernandez and Daubert -- along with local activist David Bennett -- less than an hour after the trio all voted against a zoning ordinance that Bennett has vocally opposed. We hand delivered a copy of this photo to Vandergiesen in December:

This past July, Miami Lakes resident Robin Beamon filed a complaint with the public corruption unit alleging Hernandez used his Facebook page to send messages to Pulido as a way to circumvent the Sunshine law. When we asked the state attorney's office about the status of that inquiry, Records Custodian Lorna Salomon informed us on Dec. 20 that the case is still open.

Despite being under investigation, Pulido and Hernandez joined Daubert and town activist David Bennett at the Miami Lakes Ale House immediately after the council meeting on Dec. 13, in which the three councilmen voted in unison against proposed changes to the rules governing the town's zoning board.

Pulido was the only member of the quartet to return our phone calls at the time of our initial report. He insisted they did not discuss any town business while knocking back beers and chicken wings.

Pulido told us he and his council colleagues -- whom he considers friends -- had a spirited conversation about the Miami Dolphins and holiday shopping.

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Francisco Alvarado was born in Nicaragua and grew up in Miami, giving him unique insight into the Magic City and all its dark corners. An investigative reporter with a knack for uncovering corruption, Alvarado made his bones as a staff writer at Miami New Times and remains in dogged pursuit of the next juicy story.