Natacha Seijas Recall Signatures Likely Headed To Clerk of Courts This Week (Update: They're In!)

Update: About an hour ago, Vanessa Brito -- the force behind Miami Voice, the group pushing to recall five county commissioners -- delivered 4,704 signatures supporting a ballot measure to recall Natacha Seijas.

County Clerk Harvey Ruvin accepted the petitions, which will undergo a rigorous check. Brito's group needs at least 3,591 to be ruled valid to get a Seijas recall on the ballot. "We validated all these names ourselves through the elections department, so we're confident they will get approved," Brito tells Riptide.

Seijas lawyer, Stephen Cody -- who helped the commissioner defeat another recall effort in 2007 -- also showed up at court to file a legal challenge to the signatures, Brito says.

Miami Voice, in the meantime, plans to keep collecting signatures for a recall of four other commissioners. The next target? Bruno Barreiro, Brito says.

"We're close on Bruno. We just started going door to door this weekend after finishing up the Seijas petition," she says.

Update 2: Stephen Cody, Brito's lawyer, called to clarify that he filed a complaint against Miami Voice with the elections department this morning. Miami Voice has yet to file financial statements, and Cody contends they've violated campaign financing rules in the process. Brito says the group received a waiver and plans to file reports in January.

Cody also confirms that he's been retained by Seijas' new PAC, Abre Los Brazos. He filed a public information request this morning for copies of Miami Voice's signatures, and plans to review them for any irregularities.

"We'll be checking that they've followed all the regulations for a petition drive," Cody says.

Original post:
With all the brouhaha over billionaire Norman Braman's New Times-endorsed effort to recall County Mayor Carlos Alvarez, the grassroots effort by local group "Miami Voice" to recall five county commissioners often  has gotten lost in the weeds. Without Braman's cash or explicit backing, their prospects seemed dim.

Well, don't start  putting your long-term investments into commissioners' coffers just yet. Miami Voice plans to deliver its first round of signatures -- thousands backing the recall of the "vile" Natacha Seijas, as our friends at Eye on Miami have dubbed the Wicked Witch of West Dade -- to the clerk of courts by the end of the week, Riptide has learned.

The group, lead by one-time commission candidate Vanessa Brito and backed by Miami Lakes Mayor Michael Pizzi, announced on Nov. 19 that they'd already collected 3,600 signatures -- more than the 3,591 they'd need to get a Seijas recall item on the ballot.

But with Clerk Harvey Ruvin promising to hire everyone short of the cast of CSI: Miami to comb over the Alvarez recall signatures to pronounce each and every one legit, Brito decided to keep collecting signatures.

In an interview with Riptide, the Miami Voice founder says the group is now confident it has enough signatures to bring Seijas' employment to a vote.

"We'll be turning them in either (Thursday) or Friday," she said.

The reasons why Seijas is the first commissioner to face the gantlet of a new recall are honestly too vast to enumerate. Just type her name into our search engine or plug her into Eye on Miami's archives, and bask in an afternoon of infuriating reading about luxury travel, and disrespecting voters.  

KEEP MIAMI NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Tim Elfrink is a former investigative reporter and managing editor for Miami New Times. He has won the George Polk Award and was a finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.
Contact: Tim Elfrink