Howard said the effort was geared at painting Braman as a billionaire outsider whom candidates might be beholden to if elected.
“Those folks need to be held accountable to the citizens that live in their particular districts — we don’t need to check with a billionaire first,” he said. “If we knew him and he was in our community, then we might feel a little bit better about his efforts.”
The three ECOs paid $15,000 to Workers Just Like Us, the political arm of South Florida Jobs with Justice, the nonprofit that held the anti-Braman demonstrations and tried to tie him to voter fraud.
Fred Frost, governmental affairs director for South Florida Jobs with Justice, said he urged the Marlins to join the campaign against Braman’s slate.
“I went to the Marlins, and I wrote a letter to David Samson, and I said, ‘Hey, we’re going after this guy,’ ” said Frost, the former president of the South Florida AFL-CIO, which backed the building of the new ballpark because it created construction jobs for some union workers.
The Marlins declined to comment for this article, as did the Dolphins.
In a post-election message, Braman repeated his campaign mantra: that his goal was to provide voters with new candidates. The committees, the statement said, “were established by Norman Braman for the purpose of providing four Miami-Dade communities with a choice of either reelecting their incumbent commissioners or replacing them.”
“The people have now spoken through the ballot box,” the statement said. “Both organizations and Mr. Braman, of course, will abide by the electorate’s decisions and congratulate the winners.”
South Florida Jobs with Justice asked Miami-Dade Elections Supervisor Penelope Townsley to investigate Braman’s ECO, Change Miami-Dade Now, which aired radio and television spots against the incumbents — the “pack of four,” according to the ads. The ads featured a telephone number for voters to call if they wanted to vote by mail.
Those calls didn’t go to the elections department but to Change Miami-Dade Now — a legal practice. An answering service hired by the group assisted voters in requesting absentee ballots, said Ben Kuehne, the group’s attorney. Those requests went to the elections department.
The group, Kuehne said, “never touched a single ballot, never helped a voter fill out a single ballot, never took any envelopes containing ballots, never licked envelopes containing ballots, did nothing with ballots whatsoever.”
Frost said union workers opposed Braman’s fight against the Marlins stadium but were mostly concerned that he was backing candidates in districts where the majority of voters are minorities.
He added that he didn’t think the group would get involved in the two pending runoffs for incumbents.
“We knew that somebody with the most money wins 90 percent of the time, and we wanted to fight back against him,” Frost said. “I think our job is done, as far as trying to negate Mr. Braman’s millions of dollars.”