Lorenzo and François Illas, both of Lorenzo’s consulting firm, Quantum Results, were among the 12 Gimenez operatives who signed the affidavits, which were shown Monday afternoon to a Miami Herald reporter. Illas is running Gimenez’s Hialeah campaign office. Neither Lorenzo nor Illas could be reached for comment.
The others who signed the statements include campaign manager Jesse Manzano-Plaza, fundraiser Brian Goldmeier and pollster Dario Moreno. The statements affirm the operatives did not hire the two women and did not solicit or retain “anyone who engages in the illegal procurement of absentee ballots” on behalf of the campaign.
“We have run a campaign of transparency and integrity, and this is an example of it,” Manzano-Plaza said of the affidavits, which he called “an extra step” to clear the air.
Several current and former Gimenez campaign advisors have said privately that they cautioned the campaign about venturing too deeply into Hialeah politics. Gimenez opened his campaign office in the heart of the city two weeks ago; five days later, Hialeah Mayor Carlos Hernandez, along with six of the city’s seven council members and several other Northwest Miami-Dade officials — many of them part of the city’s entrenched political machine — endorsed Gimenez.
The concerned advisors said they felt Gimenez could win the race without spending too many resources in Hialeah, and they worried that while the endorsements would be positive, outside political players — including absentee-ballot brokers — could join the fray.
The night before the Hialeah politicians publicly announced their endorsement, some of them held a private, banquet-hall event with some 600 people, including at least one well-known boletera, as ballot brokers are called in Spanish. At a news conference the next day, Gimenez dismissed questions about getting embroiled in Hialeah’s notoriously messy politics.
Gimenez has touted the Hialeah endorsements as part of an effort to unify an electorate fractured after his victory last year over former Hialeah Mayor Julio Robaina. Gimenez said Monday that no campaign advisors had voiced any concerns to him about opening an office in Hialeah.
“I wish they would have, but it probably wouldn’t have changed anything,” he said. “That doesn’t make sense, that we wouldn’t open a campaign headquarters in the second-largest city in the county.”
Even though Gimenez was elected last year despite losing the vote in Hialeah, Manzano-Plaza said the campaign wanted to deliberately reach out to the largely Cuban-American enclave this time around — and no insiders vocally disagreed.
“While we have many spirited debates about strategy within our campaign, I can’t recall anybody bringing this up,” Manzano-Plaza said. “Last year showed that you can win elections without Hialeah, but as the mayor of Dade County, I don’t think you can govern without Hialeah.”
Records show that Cabrera has worked for a handful of political campaigns since 2006. In 2006 and 2008, she worked for state Sen. Rene Garcia of Hialeah, who was photographed with Cabrera and Gimenez at a recent Gimenez political event. Garcia’s office is in the same building as Gimenez’s Hialeah campaign headquarters.
Garcia said Cabrera only worked on sending out mailers and making phone calls to voters — not collecting absentee ballots.
“I’ve never had an absentee ballot operation like other folks have had,” Garcia said. “There is a cottage industry of people trying to chase absentee ballots, and it’s wrong.”
Miami Herald staff writer Charles Rabin contributed to this report.