Probe into Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado’s campaign finances
Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado is under investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for contributions made to his 2009 campaign.

FDLE spokeswoman Kristi Gordon confirmed Monday that there is an ongoing investigation about the finances of Regalado’s campaign, but she did not go into further detail.

Two weeks ago, El Nuevo Herald reported that Regalado had received at least $8,000 in contributions from people and companies in Dominican Republic, which is illegal under election law. At that time, Regalado said that he thought those 16 contributions of $500 each were legal because the IRS had not informed his campaign of any irregularity. He added then that he would do everything possible to correct the situation, including returning the checks if necessary.

Regalado said Monday he had not received any type of correspondence from FDLE notifying him of an investigation. The first he heard about it, the mayor said, was from El Nuevo Herald.

“After the [initial] story, our accountant spoke to the Federal Elections Commission, and they said if that's the case, the remedy is to refund the money. When they verify the address and corporation, we'll be sending cashier's checks,” Regalado said Monday.

The investigation was made public in the middle of a political crisis for the mayor, who has been under attack by union leaders over the past few days. With the city of Miami facing a deficit of $61 million for next fiscal year, Regalado is seeking union concessions to avoid increasing property taxes.

Now representatives of three of the four city unions are calling for a recall referendum.

The mayor’s daughter, attorney Raquel Regalado, who was his campaign treasurer, said that last week the mayor sent letters to the Dominican contributors asking for more information to determine whether their businesses were based in Dominican Republic or in the United States.

“We told them we needed to know as soon as possible,” she said.

According to Tomás Regalado, the contributions were delivered by Willy Bermello, a Miami architect involved in a luxurious real estate project in Dominican Republic. The contributions came from people and companies linked to that project.

These contributions represent less that 1 percent of the almost $850,000 raised by Regalado’s campaign. His opponent, former City Commissioner Joe Sánchez, raised about $500,000. Regalado won with more than 71 percent of the vote.

Campaign reports also indicate that at least three of the Dominican contributions were repeated. One check was returned for lack of funds, according to the mayor. The law establishes that a person or company can donate only a maximum of $500 per candidate.

Two weeks ago Raquel Regalado said she had approached federal authorities to inform them about this.

Spokespersons for the Miami-Dade County State Attorney’s Office said they could not comment on the case.


Go back | Date: 10 Aug 2011
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