| Columns |

Natacha Seijas Takes Donation From Businessman Once Banned By Miami-Dade County

Keep New Times Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Miami and help keep the future of New Times free.

The top individual donor to the political action committee seeking to block Miami-Dade Commissioner Natacha Seijas' recall is a Hialeah businessman who was barred from getting county work. The campaign treasurer's report for Abre Los Brazos shows that Zitro Inc., a company owned by Hector P. Ortiz, contributed $10,000. In 2005, Ortiz, his son, and another Hialeah firm he owns called Horsepower Electric were hit with a two-year ban by County Manager George Burgess for his alleged role in a notorious scandal at Miami International Airport.

Ortiz's involvement was laid out in a 2001 federal bribery case against Richard Mendez, an ex-county official who once oversaw construction projects at MIA. Prosecutors claimed Ortiz gave Mendez money in exchange for steering contracts to him and his son, including a piece of a soil-cleaning contract worth $2 million even though their company had no experience removing polluted dirt.

Ortiz, who described the transactions as loans between friends, was never charged with a crime, but Mendez pled guilty and was sentenced to five years in prison. In 2005, Horsepower had locked up a no-bid 10-year contract worth an estimated $58 million to maintain and install safety devices on street lights throughout the county. But a letter from then-Miami-Dade Police Director Robert Parker to Burgess outlining the allegations against Ortiz triggered the disbarment proceedings and killed the deal.

Seijas and the Hialeah electrician go way back. In 1999, Ortiz hosted a fund-raiser for her at the Biltmore Hotel. That year, Horsepower executives, lawyers, employees and relatives of Ortiz contributed more than $10,000 to her reelection campaign.

Since the ban was lifted on December 31, 2006, Horsepower has been awarded $11.6 million worth of street light and traffic systems contracts by the county commission.

Follow Miami New Times on Facebook and Twitter @MiamiNewTimes.

Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Miami.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Miami.