Corrupt Carlos Giménez Hit with New Ethics Complaint, Government Watchdog Vows to Investigate
Shocking new text messages just released from Giménez's office show extent of Miami-Dade County Mayor's corruption
With every passing day, as he prepares to run for Congress, Corrupt Carlos Giménez stumbles into new ethics issues.
On Friday, Giménez was hit with a new ethics complaint over his office’s response to a devastating new Florida Democratic Party ad that reveals Giménez’s decades-long pattern of using his office to enrich himself, his family and his wealthy donors at taxpayers' expense.
Matching a long pattern of unethical behavior, Giménez responded to the ad that exposed his use of taxpayer money for personal gain by.... using his taxpayer-funded staff for his political gain.
Read more about the new ethics complaint against Giménez below.
1/17/20, Political Cortadito, Carlos Gimenez used taxpayer paid office staff for Congressional bid
Text messages don’t lie: Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez has been caught using several members of his publicly paid senior staff to basically work on his suddenly-halted and possibly aborted congressional campaign.
And the executive director of the Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics and Public Trust, Jose Arrojo, said they would investigate.
An ethics complaint filed Friday by Juan Cuba, former executive director of the Miami-Dade Democrats (photographed left), shows Gimenez spokeswoman, Myriam Marquez, coordinated (read: conspired) via text messages with Chief of Staff Alex Ferro and Assistant Director of Communications Patty Abril, to craft a response to a video put out by the Dems blasting the mayor’s interest in being the Republican challenger to Congresswoman Debbie Mucarsel-Powell.
In a 90-second web video on a YouTube channel called Corrupt Carlos, the Florida Democratic Party reminded us of all the reasons why “Corrupt Carlos” should never be elected, really, to any public office again: The no-bid, multi-million contracts to his family and friends, the ethics probe for secretly dealing with Donald Trump to turn over the publicly-owned Crandon Golf Course, the $130-million contract extention to his in-laws’ company, Munilla Constuction Management, after the FIU bridge that they were part of building collapsed and killed six people, the defense of Trump’s policy to keep children in cages in immigration detention.
“Once upon a time in Miami, a man of power, a man of fame, a politician abused his power to make himself and his family rich. That man’s name is Corrupt Carlos Giménez,” says a woman with a Cuban accent as photos of Gimenez and his wife dancing at a gala appear on screen and salsa plays. It had 817 views as of Friday.
When the Miami Herald wrote a story about the video — it was newsworthy; Ladra wrote a story, too — they got a comment from Marquez. Better said, the paper where she and Ladra both used to work gave her three full paragraphs of damage control for her boss:
Gimenez’s spokeswoman, Myriam Marquez, accused the state Democratic party of gross exaggeration and misinformation, and said it was “outrageous” that the ad incorporated video of Gimenez dancing at the charity Mayor’s Ball for the United Way to portray him as corrupt.
“Mayor Gimenez has never been a ‘man of power,’ never a ‘man of fame.’ He was a firefighter and later a city manager and county commissioner earning $6,000 salary,” she wrote in an email.
The county argued that the ad also inaccurately characterized a $400 million cut in recession-era spending during Gimenez’s first year in office as cuts to jobs, ignored that he “delivered the biggest tax cut in county history at a time when residents were desperate for relief,” and misstated his position on Trump’s short-lived family separation border policy and the conditions at the Homestead facility, where there were no “cages.”
Cuba told Ladra he made a public records request on June 10, the same day the story was posted on the Herald website, for Marquez’s texts and emails. He got them late Thursday, June 16, which means that Marquez clearly dragged her feet in another attempt to protect her boss (and get their stories straight). The records clearly show that the mayor’s spokeswoman, using a county-issued phone during work hours, communicated via text with Ferro, Abril and Gimenez — who will say he knew nothing but was in the group chat — to coordinate a response to the video.
“Here’s what I will send Herald once Jen confirms budget numbers. Smiley gave us until 12:30. I asked for a bit more time. We are way past deadline. Please let me know ASAP,” reads the first message sent from Marquez to the others about 1:20 p.m., although it seems they talked about it beforehand.
Jen refers to Deputy Mayor and Budget Director Jennifer Moon. And Smiley is Miami Herald reporter David Smiley.
“Mayor, we can send him another email with any other points but need to get this over to Smiley or I fear it will go out without input from us. He is fact checking the ad, he told me at 11:15 when we spoke,” she finished, after texting the entire 11 paragraphs of lame excuses and justifications that the Herald showed restraint not to quote entirely.
It is not part of the job description of the mayor’s spokeswoman to quickly craft a campaign response message for the media. That is a violation of Miami-Dade County Administrative Order No. 7-2 which explicitly prohibits “use the authority of his or her position to secure support for, or oppose, any candidate, party, or issue in a partisan election or effect the results thereof.”
It’s not like she just made a spontaneous comment to defend a beloved boss in his absence. She coordinated the response and sought input from the mayor himself. The finished product is longer than what you saw in the Miami Herald. It’s 11 paragraphs that obviously took some of the spokeswoman’s time to write and research. Marquez was hired in 2018 with a salary of $175,000 a year. The others who apparently had to spend office time on this, make six figure salaries, as well.
“The attached text messages, e-mail, and linked Miami Herald article clearly show a violation of county ethics code on behalf of Myriam Marquez and Carlos Gimenez who both used their positions and county resources to respond to political ads, attack the Democratic Party, and try to effect the results of the partisan election for Congress in District 26,” Cuba wrote in his complaint.
“The residents of Miami-Dade deserve ethical leadership from their elected officials,” he said.
Ladra bets that two things happen: One is that the Herald writes nothing or something soft and short on page 16A about it. They will claim it falls into a “gray area” and there is no way to prove that Gimenez knew or directed it. And Myriam is a soldier. She will fall on the sword and say that she never asked him if she could respond and just sent the response without his knowledge. But there is no way that happened.
Marquez did not respond to two emails asking her to call Ladra Friday.
But when the Ethics Commission issues subpoenas to investigate — and nothing less than subpoenas and sworn statements will do, Mr. Arrojo; no pinkie promises this time — they should ask for phone records that could show Gimenez and Ferro and Abril made their edits and/or contributions to Marquez’s message in audio calls. Or maybe even by Facetime. The subpoenas should also include former mayoral spokesman Mike Hernandez, who gave reporters information on 2016 mayoral challenger Raquel Regalado. Heck, he even stood in to debate her on Spanish TV and radio. There is video of this. They should also subpoena Transportation Director Alice Bravo, who spent a lot of time at campaign events and honk and waves that year.
Because this is a pattern, people, not an isolated incident.
Gimenez abuses his office to give no-bid contracts to his family and friends. Think he’s gonna be squeamish about using county staff on his campaigns?
Marquez should have known better. She was a journalist in her past life, not a campaign operative/lobbyist like Hernandez was (and is again). She should have told Gimenez he needed an independent spokesperson for campaign matters. Now, she may get thrown under the bus (read: fired) if Gimenez wants to save face.
Because this complaint, which he knew was coming as soon as Cuba filed the public records request (and can we make a public records request for communications referring to public records requests?) is precisely why Gimenez has not announced his congressional run yet. He was expected to this week. He had told friends he was going to do it on Wednesday. Ladra bets they had a venue and a podium set aside.
At a press conference after the annual State of the County address, which was Tuesday, he told reporters that the timing was not right.
“What the next path is, it’s still to be determined,” he was quoted as saying. “I haven’t made up my mind yet.”
Hasn’t made up his mind?
More likely is that he’s decided to wait until this storm blows over to see if the blame sticks to poor Myriam. Or he may just bow out completely, blaming his wife Lourdes, saying she wants to spend more time with him and the famous grandkids — until he runs for mayor in Miami, which Ladra still says is his dream job and end game.
Then again, his friends on the Miami dais are looking for a new city manager, a job he had once upon a time.
And it pays more than being a congressman.