News: Show me the Money

The Latest Campaign Filing Reports

By Anne Newport Royall


With early voting in the City of Miami Beach underway, a look at the latest campaign filing reports reveal one of the smallest elections in recent history in terms of money raised and spent.

Mayoral Candidate Steve Berke continued to raise small amounts of cash from donors, mostly off the Beach, adding only $1,750.00 to his coffers, for a total of  $24, 074.73 through 10/7/2011.  Of that, he has spent $23,940.64.

Your World Entertainment on Miami Beach donated $200.00, while Barry Silverman, an Aventura physician gave $500.00.  Of the $2,241.83 he spent during the two weeks of the reporting, most went for printing, ($424.00 for yard signs and $5,24l.30 for flyers) or advertising, with over $1000.00 headed Google’s way for advertising.

Meanwhile, Candidate Dave Crystal managed to raise more money then he spent during this report, ($245.00 raised, vs. $146.30 spent). He has had the benefit of third party mailings from Proven Leadership for Miami Beach to help stuff mailboxes with his message.

When asked by The SunPost about his connection to this group, Crystal responded by email, “I have no formal association; I just know they support me and I am more than happy to have their support! I don’t know them personally.”

New contributors to his campaign from Miami Beach include Carl Barnick, Geoff Zerlcer and Daniel Mormon.

Laura Levey added $6,000.00 to her campaign, through two maximum donations from   Miami Beach attorney Catherine Rodriguez and All Medicare Home Aids from Ft. Lauderdale.  Her husband is also listed as loaning the campaign an additional $5000.00.

In total, she has reported $8,500.00 in contributions spending $3,410.00 of that to date.  She has hired consultant Sze Lee’s Social Capital Management to coordinate her campaign, and spent $2,000.00 in the reporting period on her services between 9/24/2011 and 10/7/2011.

Incumbent Matti Herrera Bower continued to raise money, boasting an additional $8,500.00 in cash with additional $850.00 in-kind contributions for the report.  This raises her totals to $46, 543.00 in total monetary contributions and $24, 693.00 spent to date on her reelection bid.  Over $20,000.00 was spent in this reporting period alone.

In her last election, Bower raised $62,495.00 but spent less than half of that sum, giving almost $30,000.00 away to non-profit groups including the Barrerio Foundation, The Miami Design Preservation League and UNIDAD after the election.

Norman Braman and his wife, Stanley Shapiro and the employee union GSA, one of the five bargaining units City employees are divided into, all appeared on Bowers list this time to show their support.

Most of the expense money reported was paid to Randall Hilliard’s Washington Square Partners, who received $11,485.50.  Another $8,000.00 was spent with Jeffery Garcia’s Palm Media, a Coral Gables company that was inactive for two years until refilling with the state to go back into business in July of this year.

The Mayor has also benefited from free bumper stickers, produced by JP Morgan of City Debate and placed on his families fleet of taxicabs plying their trade in the City.  Additionally, a mailing from Citizen Action, featuring both incumbents, Bower and Weithorn, hit mailboxes last week.

Citizen Action is a political action committee controlled by political consultant Keith Donner.


Maria Meruelo has maintained her campaign promise of not accepting contributions, “ I am self funding my own campaign 100%. I have not accepted any contributions. I don’t have friends who are lobbyists, developers or union.  I won’t owe anyone any favors,”  she says in her MBTV 77 campaign  infomercial. She loaned another $2,000.00 to her campaign and spent $1,190.00 on postage and mailings.

In total, Meruelo has spent over $4,000.00 of the $5,000.00 she has invested in this campaign.

Meruelo has also been the beneficiary of third party mailings, done by the group Proven Leadership for Miami Beach. This group is not registered in the State of Florida and lists as it’s mailing address a building owned by Baron Messenger Limited, which is controlled by Lori Baron and Larry Schwartz. Some postcards have come to advertise her, some pushing Meruelo and Dave Crystal together.

This activity has forced current Commissioner Deede Weithorn into fundraising mode.  For the two-week period, she raised $10.501.00 more than all the other candidates in all the other races combined.  This brings her war chest up to $48, 596.00, of which $43,444.75 has been spent to date.

Bundled checks from Fred Karlton totaled over $2,000.00.  Also bundling checks from his various real estate holdings was Bernard Klepach for $1,500.00.  The wife of land use attorney Wayne Pathman, Leslie made the list with a $500.00 donation.  Other Miami Beach residents on Weithorns’ list include Democratic Party heavyweights David Patlak and Larry Thorson, North Beach activist and jewelry-maker Deborah Ruggiero, Collins Park activist Ray Breslin, Design Review Board member and President of the North Beach Development Carol Housen, Mango’s David Wallack, and the GSA employee union.

For the most recent period, Weithorn spent over $9,000.00, with over a third going to consultants. Randall Hilliard collected $2,257.16 and MV Almer was a paid $1,000.00.  The remainder was spent on mailing and printing.

When asked about her connection to Citizen Action, Weithorn responded to The SunPost with an email, “I do not know what you are referring to? If it’s the mailer for Matti  and I, it was done by someone paid for by them on our behalf. We did nothing except provide artwork which I have sent to lots of people for meet and greets, fundraisers and the like.”

The last report before Election Day is due Friday October 28, covering the last two weeks of campaigning.  Any races that move to a run-off will allow the candidates to raise more money, even from people who contributed already to the limit.

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