Miami Beach Election Today: Góngora's Strip Club Bruhaha
Since at least 2004, Club Madonna owner Leroy Griffith has been clamoring to overturn a ban on adult entertainment venues serving alcohol on South Beach. It's unfair, he says, that he has to serve ARIEL wine and O'Doul's at his strip joint when others across the causeway can be one-stop-shops for both boobs and booze.
It all comes down to having a fair hearing on the 1989 ordinance, he says, but local politicians have stood in the way thus far. Griffith claims he's being barred from civic participation because no one will allow him to voice his complaint before the city commission. In the past, he's sued a commissioner's wife for slander and filed a lawsuit against the city itself for his attorney's fees in that battle.
For quite a while now, he's taken aim at potential mayor Michael Góngora, claiming that the Herald-endorsed candidate is a liar and an extortionist. Góngora, of course, denies, and at least so far, it seems no one -- including prosecutors -- is taking Griffith's complaint seriously.
The accusation stems from Góngora's commish bid in 2009. During that time, Griffith claims, Góngora intimated to the night-club impresario that he had no qualms about mixing liquor and strippers. Multiple checks were cut. An ethics committee investigation found that Góngora didn't report the contributions, and he paid a $2,000 fine for the indiscretion.
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Griffith is upset about what happened after the donations were made. He says he wrote the checks expecting Góngora to follow through on his promise for a hearing. Months after the November election, Griffith grew frustrated and arranged a lunch, Góngora was late, but campaign manager Randy Hilliard allegedly presented an ultimatum over appetizers: Góngora would only push for the hearing if his right-hand-man was hired as a paid lobbyist. Gongora allegedly reiterated the request.
"Well if you don't hire Randy to talk to them, I'm not gonna bring it up, period," Griffith remembers him saying. The club-owner, who paints his fingernails in a clear coat, also claims the discussion almost caused a fist fight.
Góngora vehemently denies these allegations. "Leroy is desperate for publicity," he told Riptide. "It's sad that as an elected official that works really hard, disgruntled people want to regurgitate old lies come election time."
Indeed, today is election day and Góngora is one of the favorites. Of course, there are a few other clowns running for office,
At 81 years old, though, this fight against Góngora might be his last. For all his experience, what does he want voters to know on Election Day? "The guy's an outright liar, and his word is no good, period," Griffith says.