Money in Politics

There are few things more frustrating in Miami than the legalized bribery that happens in our local government. One example covered by the Herald recently is the $17,000 that Ultra just put into Commissioner Hardemon's political entities in the lead-up to a vote on whether Ultra should be allowed to return to Bayfront Park.

Since June 27, newly posted campaign finance reports show the commissioner sponsoring the deal, Keon Hardemon, received political contributions totaling $7,000 from Ultra and affiliated entities on May 31 — the same day administrators produced a draft agreement, according to city records. Hardemon is running for the District 3 seat on the Miami-Dade County Commission.

On June 26, the day before commissioners first considered the new Ultra deal, the festival’s parent company cut a $10,000 check to One Miami Dade, an elections communications committee chaired by Hardemon’s aunt, Barbara Hardemon, who has lobbied for Ultra in the past.

There are usually no political consequences in the City of Miami for headlines like this. This doesn't have to be the case. Other municipalities have passed laws to prohibit campaign contributions from lobbyists, vendors and contractors doing business with that respective city. It's not a silver bullet, but it creates some accountability. Take Miami Beach for example. They passed this law several years ago, and while it did not stop some politicians from bending those rules, it caused severe political blow back once they were caught by the Herald.

While we're on the topic of money in politics. Politico Cortadito had a good article a month ago about all the new PACs that are being setup in Miami-Dade, and every politician has their own. Here's a current snapshot of the county mayoral PACs:

  • Bold PAC, controlled by Alex Penelas, has $1.08 million cash-on-hand
  • Transportation Solutions, controlled by Commissioner Bovo, has $877,000 cash-on-hand
  • Our Democracy, controlled by Commissioner Levine Cava, has $722,000 cash-on-hand
  • Imagine Miami PC, controlled by Commissioner Suarez, has $688,000 cash-on-hand

And that's just a fraction of the $3-5 million each candidate is expected to raise for next August's mayoral election. Side note: Penelas, Bovo, and Suarez have not officially filed paperwork to run for Mayor yet.

Shout-out. Typically it's tough to find out who's controlling what PAC, but a few years ago, Commissioner Levine Cava passed a county ordinance that required all municipal candidates and elected officials in Miami-Dade County to disclose if they are soliciting funds for any political committee, 501c4, or political party. You can find those disclosures here:

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