In his most recent column, Luther Campbell claims that Homestead City Councilman Jimmie Williams III, who supports Carlos Gimenez for mayor, offered him a $40,000 appearance fee to show up at the elected official's soon-to-be-opened Snapper's seafood restaurant at 800 Ives Dairy Road. Williams allegedly made the offer following a 1 a.m. meeting on June 7 he had with Campbell and Gimenez to discuss the former rap music producer's possible endorsement of the ex-county commissioner for Miami-Dade Mayor. The rendezvous occurred inside the councilman's dining establishment.
In a conversation with Banana Republican, Campbell said Gimenez was not present when Williams mentioned the $40,000. "Jimmie also told me that his partner, this guy Wayne Rosen who came with Carlos to the meeting, had invested $30,000 into the Gimenez campaign," Campbell said. Williams did not respond to an email sent to his personal AOL account requesting comment.
In a phone interview earlier today, Gimenez confirmed Rosen, a Homestead real estate developer who has bankrolled political campaigns in that city, including Williams', rode to the meeting with him. "Wayne came with us and left with us," Gimenez said.
Rosen contributed the maximum $500 to the Gimenez campaign. In addition, Wayne Rosen Inc. gave $2,500 on May 18, $25,000 on June 1, and $4,500 on June 3 to Common Sense Now, Gimenez's political action committee that has been conducting polls and running attack ads against his opponent ex-Hialeah Mayor Julio Robaina, who received $1,500 in campaign donations from Rosen and his companies.
EyeOnMiami blogger Genuis of Despair, who zealously endorses Gimenez, has written extensively on Rosen's political machinations in Homestead, including this item accusing the builder of buying a city election.
The former county commissioner, who according to a recent poll leads Robaina by 11 points, said his entourage also included political consultant Alberto Lorenzo (whose company has been paid $26,242 by Common Sense Now); lobbyist-lawyer Pablo Acosta (who worked at the defunct law firm Steel Hector & Davis that employed Gimenez as a consultant after resigned as Miami city manager); and lobbyist Ralph Garcia-Toledo.
Gimenez says when he and his crew arrived at Snapper's, Williams and Campbell were already there, as well as African American lawyer Steven Hunter Johnson, who volunteered on Uncle Luke's campaign. "That was the first time I saw Jimmie Williams," Gimenez asserted. "During the meeting, we talked about the Overtown and Omni community redevelopment agencies in Miami. Luke was worried about my position on the CRAs."
Gimenez denied Campbell's claim that he wanted to eliminate the agencies, which are charged with using taxpayer monies to remove slum and blight. "I told him that every CRA, not just the ones in Overtown and the Omni neighborhood, have to be held accountable," Gimenez said. "Some do it better than others. I thought we were in agreement.
"But people kept whispering in Luke's ear that I want to do away with the CRAs. We went round and round about that issue three, four times."
Gimenez says Campbell brought up the possibility of giving Miami-Dade School Board operations director Pierre Rutledge a job in his mayoral administration in subsequent conversations.
The mayoral front runner also addressed Rosen's support of his campaign, as well as contributions he has received from County Hall insiders like Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission Chairman Rodney Barreto and real estate developer Edward Easton, both of whom own land outside the county's urban development boundary that they want to build on.
Barreto and his wife contributed $7,500 to Common Sense Now. Barreto's former lobbying partners Brian May and Courtney Cunningham gave the PAC a combined $6,500. Easton, who seeks to build a 6,941-home community in western Miami-Dade outside the UDB, ponied up $10,000 for Common Sense Now.
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"There is no quid pro quo with me," Gimenez said. "I make that very clear to everybody. I will do what is in the best interests of Miami-Dade's citizens."
When he was county commissioner, Gimenez championed proposals to make it harder to change the boundary in the future. His lone vote to move the line came in 2006, ironically in support of an application by the City of Hialeah pushed by Robaina when he was the mayor.
"My door is always open," Gimenez says. "But I am not going to change now. I have a pretty good reputation of being a straight shooter."