Why Campaign Finance Reform Starts With Us

It’s the last week in October of 2010. The highly contested election of Florida’s governor is coming to an end. Waiting. Reading. Watching. Listening. Waiting. Will it be Alex Sink or Rick Scott? That’s when I received a call from the Florida’s Democratic Party, Director of Party Affairs who was working out of the Miami-Dade Democratic Party offices during these final stretches in the race and had just received a monetary contribution for the local party. As the 2008-2011 Miami-Dade Democratic Party Treasurer, I would be responsible for the $10,000 check from a local South Florida business, Wayne Rosen, Inc.

Being Treasurer was an honor for me and I appreciated the importance of my role. Managing the capital account of the Democratic Executive Committee meant that I was in charge of authorizing expenditures, monitoring contributions, keeping records and signing all reports and statements on time. As an active, licensed insurance agent with the Florida Department of Financial Services and the business owner of a highly regulated organic wine importing and distribution business at that time, I took (and continue to take) all of my appointed fiduciary positions very seriously.

Public Park in Paris, France - 2015

Public Park in Paris, France - 2015

In Miami-Dade County, there is no law that limits how much an individual or corporation can contribute to a Political Executive Committee (Local Political Party). This is a loophole that is often leveraged by the special, big-money interests that are otherwise capped when contributing directly to the political campaign of a local, state or federal candidate.

In Miami-Dade County, there is no law that limits how much an individual or corporation can contribute to a Political Executive Committee (Local Political Party).

 

In the case of this $10,000 check, over $9,850 was already indirectly earmarked two days after I received the contribution with invoices provided to me by the FDP Director of Party Affairs. These invoices were from Williams & Associates Consultant Group, Inc. for canvassing and consulting services. The fact that these expenditures had never been discussed or approved at a previous Steering Committee board meeting, which I sat on, is what raised a red flag. I immediately began research via the Florida Department of Corporations website to discover who the registered agent(s) was for the two entities.

Here’s what I discovered:

  • The registered agent (President) for Williams & Associates Consultant Group Inc. was Jimmie L. Williams, 111 a sitting Councilman for the City of Homestead in Miami-Dade County.
  • The entity was incorporated on October 25th, 2010.  
    • That's (2) days before the Party was invoiced for its services.
    • The registered corporation had no previous history of rendering the services for which it was invoicing.
  • The registered agent for Wayne Rosen, Inc. was Wayne Rosen, a South Florida businessman and developer. 
    • Wayne Rosen had extensive business interests in the City of Homestead, including property outside of the Urban Development Boundary.

In conclusion, not only did I refuse to execute the checks for the invoices, I informed the FDP Director of Party Affairs that I was refunding Wayne Rosen, Inc.’s contribution of $10,000. Late in the evening of November 1st, 2010, after I discussed my decision with the Miami-Dade Democratic Party Chairman; I drove to our offices on Arthur Godfrey Road in Miami Beach and I personally handed back the refund check to the FDP Director of Party Affairs.

It was in that very moment as a public servant when I realized that Campaign Finance Reform would start with me.  

 

* I drafted this proposal as a City of Miami constituent in 2015 and shared it via a YOUNGARMY project @NotifyMiami on Twitter.   

* I drafted this proposal as a City of Miami constituent in 2015 and shared it via a YOUNGARMY project @NotifyMiami on Twitter. 
 

By Gabriel Mendoza, Founder

YOUNGARMY  | A New Progressive Think Tank

www.youngarmy.com