Miami-Dade Paying $340,000 To Lobbying Firms Tied To Marlins Debacle, Genting Agenda UPDATE

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The four firms representing Miami-Dade County before the state legislature are mired in potential conflicts of interests and ongoing controversies. Yesterday, county commissioners awarded $120,000 each to law firms Ronald L. Book P.A. and Rutledge, Ecenia & Purnell, as well as $50,000 each for Akerman Senterfitt and Ballard Partners -- $90,000 less than they originally allocated. This past Dec. 28, Mayor Carlos Gimenez vetoed the commission's decision to divide $450,000 among the four firms because it would not save taxpayers any money - which is why commissioners claimed they wanted to rebid the county's lobbying contract in the first place.

The firms getting rich off taxpayers have close ties to Malaysian gambling giant Genting, executives tied up in criminal probes and even employ the same clowns who helped negotiate the disastrous Miami Marlins stadium deal. Click through for the worst conflicts for each.


Ron Book: Once again, commissioners chose to hire Book, the über-lobbyist who represents dozens of private clients and municipalities with competing interests. For example, he represents the city of Miami, Magic City Casino, and the Miami Dolphins. All three entities, just like Miami-Dade government, have a big-time stake in the outcome of the casino resort bill under consideration by state lawmakers.


Rutledge: The Rudtledge firm, which subcontracts its portion of the lobbying contract to Becker & Poliakoff and Dutko Worldwide. Becker employs the mayor's son Carlos Gimenez Jr. and state Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla as government lobbyists, as well as former county manager George Burgess as chief operations officer. Dutko recently had on its roster Alfredo Mesa and Javier Soto, a pair of ex-county executives who worked for former Mayor Alex Penelas. 

Although they are no longer with Dutko, Mesa and Soto worked for the firm when they represented the Miami Marlins at the time the ball club was negotiating the terms of its stadium deal with Penelas' successor Carlos Alvarez. You know, the same controversial deal that is now the subject of a probe by the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission

Akerman Senterfit and Ballard: Akerman raised $30,000 for Gimenez's reelection, while Ballard Partners, which also lobbies on behalf of Genting, has a managing partner tied up in an ugly criminal probe. (The firm's owner Brian Ballard is Mitt Romney's national campaign finance co-chairman).

Managing partner Sylvester Lukis' wife, Vicki Lopez Lukis, was the subject of scathing investigation by the state Department of Juvenile Justice's inspector general last June. Investigators concluded Lopez Lukis used her contract to help troubled teenage girls for personal gain, buying meals at fancy restaurants, gifts for friends and lawmakers, and other unauthorized expenses. No criminal charges were filed, but the inspector general recommended the juvenile justice department recover at least $110,000 from Lopez Lukis.

Update: The Governor's Chief Inspector General has released a new report finding that the Department of Juvenile Justice's investigation into Lukis had been sloppy and incorrect. 

After reviewing the previous investigation into Lukis, the department found the previous report was not "sufficient, competent or relevant" enough to accuse Lukis or the group of abusing state funds. The investigation found that "no evidence was identified or found to indicate that any invoices were falsified or that contractual services were not delivered." 

You can read the full updated report here:
CIG Final Report

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16 comments
Mike the thief
Mike the thief

Mike Abrams is probably being investigated for bribing County officials to get taxpayer money for the broke Miami Science Museum and the broke Miami Art Museum. Liar.

Pond scum
Pond scum

Ron Book, Mikey Abrams and Sylvester Lukis are all pond scum. They take money and sell out every client for the next better paying client.

Lower than pond scum.

bbtatt
bbtatt

Everyone knows what the deal is. Money is ruling everything. And the mayor will do whatever the highest bidder tells him to do.

MDENOTALLCROOX
MDENOTALLCROOX

You keep going Frank, expose all these creeps for the low life bastards they are if they are somebody's wife. If exposing corruption and back door politicks is "slimy" then you stay slimy, my friends.

Scum lobbyists
Scum lobbyists

Ron Book, Mikey Abrams and Sylvester Lukis are all pond scum. They take money and sell out every client for the next better paying client.

Lower than pond scum.

Scum lobbyists
Scum lobbyists

Ron Book, Mikey Abrams and Sylvester Lukis are all pond scum. They take money and sell out every client for the next better paying client.

Lower than pond scum.

Scum lobbyists
Scum lobbyists

Ron Book, Mikey Abrams and Sylvester Lukis are all pond scum. They take money and sell out every client for the next better paying client.

Lower than pond scum.

Scum lobbyists
Scum lobbyists

Ron Book, Mikey Abrams and Sylvester Lukis are all pond scum. They take money and sell out every client for the next better paying client.

Lower than pond scum.

Scum lobbyists
Scum lobbyists

Ron Book, Mikey Abrams and Sylvester Lukis are all pond scum. They take money and sell out every client for the next better paying client.

Lower than pond scum.

Girlgomez1988
Girlgomez1988

They should not be spending so much but I guess that is what these lobbyists demand. They should continue to do everything possible to secure the construction of the new resort. It means prosperity for us, not stagnation.

Slimepatrol
Slimepatrol

Frank, for the record none of the county's lobbyists are involved in an "ugly criminal investigation".  And to bring in someone's wife who is the subject of a draft report that was issued prematurely with documented serious errors and omissions is a new low -- even for you (who's stature in the "journalist" community sinks further with every blog you write).  As you know well, the subject of that report was never given an opportunity to respond to the allegations contained in that report; and you know that the report is currently under review by a higher authority because of the serious errors it contains.  Very slimy, my friend.

Walkerrobert57
Walkerrobert57

Miami-Dade is fighting to get the bill passed because they need the revenue. Other interests including the State of Florida need and want that revenue as well. Yes, certain interests fear the reform and they would of course be certain existing casinos who fear the competition and other tourist destinations like Disney in Orlando. It's not everyday, an outside interest like Genting comes in and offers to spend $4 billion in your neighborhood and crate thousands of jobs. The bill will pass but not until all the poli-ticks finish posturing.

Balzerjohn
Balzerjohn

Yes, our current political system is imperfect and the lobbying, insidious in nature is part of the process. Everyone including Miami-Dade County wants their piece of the Genting pie. Despite recent polling data showing a 50-50 approval for the casino initiative in Dade, I am confident that it will pass the legislature handily for the reasons cited here and because gambling reform is vital to our state and it's future.

truth_hurts_eh
truth_hurts_eh

Frank, keep up the great work and don't let losers like slimepatrol stop you.  Ron Book is a complete jerk.

Steve Hagen
Steve Hagen

It won't pass until next year so the politicans can get another load of checks......

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