Politicians have always found creative ways to deal with bubbling rumors that they're up to no good. There's the classic "I am not a crook!" finger wag on television and the passive-aggressive sprint through a hotel kitchen to avoid reporters asking tough questions.
Last night, North Miami Beach Mayor George Vallejo may have invented a new, 21st-century approach to the problem. Tipped off that Channel 10 was sniffing around a brewing criminal probe, Vallejo took to Twitter and Facebook to boldly announce he was under investigation.
"Here are the facts. There is an investigation. And we are cooperating fully," Vallejo says in a brief video statement.
The concrete details, though, are still murky. Vallejo declined to discuss exactly what allegations the State Attorney's Office might be looking into, saying, "I'd like to be able to talk about it, but there's only so much I can say right now."
The State Attorney's Office, meanwhile, confirmed the case is ongoing.
“Since Mayor Vallejo has made public that he is the subject of an investigation, we can say that there is a current matter that we are reviewing closely," State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle says in a statement. "While we cannot comment on the actual case in order to maintain the integrity of the investigation, we can assure the community that we are looking at all information and facts related to it."
According to Channel 10's Bob Norman, the case centers on Vallejo's day job as a real-estate broker for Allied Florida Group, Inc., a company owned by his wife. The allegations against the mayor might be tied to his votes for tax credits for companies working with Allied Florida Group.
Vallejo apparently got wind that Norman planned to confront him about the case at a commission meeting last night, so he skipped the meeting and instead uploaded his video messages about the case.
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The mayor blamed the whole affair on his rivals in North Miami Beach.
"Unfortunately, in a process that's supposed to be confidential, some lobbyists and political enemies have been taking this opportunity to spread malicious gossip in order to smear me," Vallejo says.
The 49-year-old was elected mayor in 2011 and reelected without opposition last year in North Miami Beach, a city of 41,000 people.
A State Attorney's Office spokesperson hasn't responded to a message from New Times about Vallejo's claims.