made the U.S. Supreme Court stand up for free speech, gets as nasty as he wants
to be for Miami New Times. This week, Luke -- who is a candidate to
replace more-boring-than-bread-pudding ex-Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez on May
24 -- follows the money financing his opponents.
Before even filing his first campaign contribution
report, my opponent Julio Robaina boasted April 1 on his Facebook page about
raising more than $600,000. So far, the Hialeah mayor and the two other
so-called front-runners in the mayor's race -- county Commissioner Carlos Gimenez
and former state Rep. Marcelo Llorente -- have raised a combined $1.2
million.That kind of money is nothing to brag about. You
have to ask: What do the people who provide that cash expect in
But the money given directly to these candidates is
only part of the game. It's policed, and contributors are limited to $500 each.
Then there's the soft money -- from political action committees -- with no
contribution limit. Though not expressly tied to candidates, PACs often do the
Common Sense Now, a PAC chaired by Gimenez. It was launched this past November
as a way to restore sanity to county government after then-Mayor Carlos Alvarez
had stirred things up. The group has collected $277,000, including sizable
donations from individuals and corporations that have given to Gimenez's mayoral
effort and do business with the county. For instance, real estate developer
Jeffrey Berkowitz, who raised $5,500 for Gimenez, gave Common Sense $15,000 this
past December. High-end builder Coastal Construction Group forked over
Alvarez was recalled March 15, the PAC has spent money on consultants who are
working on Gimenez's campaign. Among them is Florida International University
professor Dario Moreno, who has been paid $22,623.
Then there's the Truth for Our Community, a PAC
chaired by Robaina buddy and Hialeah Housing Authority executive director Julio
Ponce. It took up the Hialeah pol's efforts against slot machines in Miami-Dade
and term limits in Hialeah. It has raised more than $400,000, at least some from
people and companies that do business with the county.
Llorente chairs a PAC too. It's called A New Day in Miami-Dade and had raised
$17,000 as of March 31.
controlling this race? The same developers, lobbyists, charter school owners,
and corporate barons responsible for the collapse of the real estate market and
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the public school system. Greed, not reform, is driving this special
to follow the money to know what is really going on.