Ordinary citizens, especially community activists, who consider running for public office usually do so because they think they can do better than the status quo. The more honorable among them usually start out with the purest of intentions, believing themselves to be incorruptible. Unfortunately, with rare exception, corruption and politics go hand in hand.
Even North Miami Beach EX-mayor/current felony defendant Myron Rosner, as despicable as he is, most likely started out his political career with every intention of making a difference. The truth is, if Myron had been a likeable person and hadn’t pissed so many people off to begin with, he might have actually gotten away with his alleged crimes. His terminally nasty and vindictive personality naturally caused animosity and invoked rage in practically every person whose path he darkened. Myron is such a toxic excuse for a human being, it’s impossible not to feel an intense need to retaliate in kind. Giving the Lord a day off, so many of us simply couldn’t help but seek vengeance. With a passion.
Luckily for those of us who were persistent, revenge (always best served cold, as they say) was finally ours when Myron did the perp walk on September 20, 2012, nearly a year and a half after complaints were filed and an investigation was opened. As noted in Myron The Rat Revisited, Myron’s arrest was the result of a combined effort by the Miami-Dade Police Department’s Public Corruption Investigations Bureau, the Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics, the State Attorney’s Office, and the courageous testimony of a whistle blower-slash-victim of Myron’s bullying ways.
According to a Memorandum by Ethics Commission Investigator Kennedy Rosario dated November 5, 2012 (the original of which was incorrectly dated 2010), a separate but related investigation took place during that time period, which flew under the radar, but has now come to light.
Four months ago, in The mysterious saga of the Hialeah boletera continues, I wrote:
“A familiar name kept popping up in my investigations: Al Lorenzo. According to a Miami Herald article from September 1, 2012, Former North Miami Beach mayor investigated over cost of bus bench ads, not only did “Lorenzo’s company, Quantum Results, Inc., serve as a consultant” to Katherine Fernandez Rundle’s campaign, but he is also connected to the investigation of North Miami Beach EX-mayor Myron Rosner for campaign finance fraud.
The Herald reports, “Investigators are also examining political strategist Al Lorenzo, who helped with Rosner’s campaign but does not appear in campaign reports.” Myron claimed that Lorenzo was paid through Myron’s payments to The Campaign Super Store, Inc. for advertising. His Campaign Treasurer’s Reports show that he paid The Campaign Super Store, Inc., a total amount of $10,422.49 for his 2011 campaign for re-election. The owner of The Campaign Superstore, Inc., Charles Safdie, told the Herald, “It’s customary for campaign consultants to receive a commission or nominal fee in exchange for referring a client.”
The big question is: Why did Myron hire Lorenzo through The Campaign Superstore, Inc. when I hear the two of them are good buddies. In fact, they’ve been seen around town at functions together over the years, including a Miami-Dade League of Cities Gala Installation three years ago. If Myron wasn’t trying to hide these payments, why not pay Lorenzo directly? Just saying.”
While the “big question” has yet to be answered (perhaps it will during Myron’s eventual, long awaited trial), Investigator Rosario’s Memorandum directly addressed this issue and connected some of the dots. In addition to noting that Myron hired Al Lorenzo’s company, Quantum Results, Inc., a man named Frank Roger May II formed a political action committee “constituted to influence the outcome of certain elections” called Citizens United for Protection of our Community at the request of Al Lorenzo.
As a side note, this political action committee is not registered with the State of Florida Division of Elections. Interestingly, as I noted in my last column about Myron’s arrest, Myron also formed a Florida corporation called Citizens United for Truth and Equitable Government, Inc., which was administratively dissolved this past September. Apparently, Myron has a fondness for the words “Citizens United.”
Investigator Rosario also discovered that the Citizens United political action committee was a vendor for a Florida corporation called The Campaign Super Store, Inc., which is owned by Charles A. Safdie, who, “[i]n a sworn statement … acknowledged that the Store “did his printing and direct mail” referring to Rosner’s re-election campaign,” according to the Memorandum.
Frank May also told Investigator Rosario that his Citizens United political action committee paid The Campaign Super Store, Inc. to make Myron’s campaign signs, which were plastered all over North Miami Beach during the campaign. Charles Safdie acknowledged that he had to turn over 50% of any profits his store made to either Myron’s re-election campaign or to the Citizens United political action committee.
Those are the facts as laid out by Investigator Rosario’s Memorandum.
As twisted as Myron seems to be, never let it be said he isn’t cunning. Here’s how this scenario plays out to me:
Myron hires Al Lorenzo.
Lorenzo contacts Frank Roger May II to be the “chairman” of a political action committee called Citizens United, which was formed to help get Myron elected.
This political action committee hires Charles Safdie’s The Campaign Super Store to print Myron’s campaign signs.
After printing the signs and making a profit, The Campaign Super Store was then obligated to pay one half of its profits back to Myron’s campaign account or to his political action committee (which is eerily reminiscent of Myron’s scheme to “swap checks” with Martin Outdoor Media, right?).
Does that sound like a shakedown to you? It does to me!
I bet poor Charles Safdie rues the day Myron ever set foot into his store.
Even more bizarre (although I probably shouldn’t be surprised), the Commission on Ethics decided that it was “inconclusive” whether or not Al Lorenzo’s scheme violated any Florida Elections Laws. After all, “No Probable Cause” is the Commission’s favorite ruling.
However, what the Memorandum further divulges gives us an even more revealing look into the “ethics” of politics, one which involves our favorite State Attorney/Political Animal, Katherine Fernandez Rundle. It states:
“It is of note and publicly known that Lorenzo was also acting as a campaign consultant for Kathy Rundle’s re-election campaign for Dade County State Attorney.
On February 1, 2012 a meeting was held at the SAO attended by Chief Assistant for Special Prosecutions Jose Arroyo, Division Chief for Organized Crime and R.I.C.O Howard Rosen, Assistant State Attorney Breeyze Telfair, MDPD Pubic Corruption Investigations Bureau Sgt. Marisol Garbutt, Detective Louis Rodriguez, Financial Analyst Maggie Amaya-Rivas, Commission on Ethics Investigator Breno Penichet and Investigator Kennedy Rosario.
The meeting produced a consensus between all parties that the SAO could not continue as the prosecution agency due to a possible conflict of interest involving Lorenzo.”
And that, dear readers, is why the investigation into Lorenzo’s theoretical “shakedown” of The Campaign Super Store for 50% of its profits was bifurcated, or split from the investigation, “until such time as the Rosner investigation reached a conclusion. The question of possible Florida election violations would then be addressed through consultation with the Florida Elections Commission.”
The “Rosner investigation” concluded with his arrest on September 20, 2012. (Click here for the Report of Investigation.)
And what of the investigation into Al Lorenzo? Funny you should ask.
According to Investigator Kennedy Rosario’s Memorandum:
“Soon thereafter Detective Rodriguez, Investigators Penichet and Rosario contacted the Florida Elections Commission and engaged its Executive Director Eric Littman in a telephonic conversation seeking guidance concerning the Lorenzo-Safdie information. Littman directed the inquiry to Florida Department of State Assistant General Counsel Gary Holland.
Subsequently, Investigator Rosario spoke with Holland. Holland decided that he needed to inquire and discuss the issue with the General Counsel.
On November 1, 2012 Holland left a voice mail on Investigator Rosario’s direct COE office telephone line in which he stated that he “inquired and discussed the issue with the General Counsel” and both determined that “there was no violation as to the campaign consultant (Lorenzo) the candidate (Rosner) or the PAC (Citizens)”and was “not a matter that concerns an election violation.”
In the final analysis, Al Lorenzo skates, Kathy Rundle is free to hire him again for her next campaign, Myron’s felony trial is set for a “PLEA/SOUNDING” on January 17, 2014 at 2:00 PM (which was originally scheduled for November 15, 2013, but obviously continued), and Myron’s criminal attorney Benedict P. Kuehne keeps on collecting his fee.
The moral of the story is that if you want to throw your hat into the political arena, be prepared to compromise whatever principles you might have because, apparently, you won’t need them once you get elected.
And if you do happen to get caught doing something blatantly unethical, no worries. Let ‘Em Go Joe’s got your back.
“Spreading the Wealth”