Miami-Dade’s notoriously dirty politics have been under the microscope as of late, with Sternad’s case, the two Jeffrey Garcia-related investigations, a state investigation of Homestead’s mayor, and federal investigations into the mayors of Miami Lakes and Sweetwater as well as a tax case against former Hialeah Mayor Julio Robaina, whose uncle was busted in an unrelated state absentee-ballot scandal.
Since 2010, Republicans have complained that Arrojo should have been charged.
During that election, two Republicans filed Federal Elections Commission complaints against Arrojo because the political unknown refused to disclose any campaign finance information. They suspected he was a ringer candidate designed to siphon votes from Rivera.
Arrojo, who has steadfastly refused comment for years, wouldn’t say how he paid the $10,440 qualifying fee to make the ballot and he wouldn’t say how he paid for the mailers. All told, his campaign spent well over $20,000 — none of it disclosed in campaign finance reports.
How Arrojo, a stay-at-home dad, could pay for it all is a mystery. Court records show he has declared bankruptcy, and has had IRS tax liens placed against him and his Coral Gables home, which has been in foreclosure.
The decision to use Image Plus — a Democratic-leaning union shop — was also curious for an alleged Tea Party candidate. Arrojo, before filing as a Tea Party candidate, was a registered Republican. He initially filed to run as a Democrat, and is again now a registered Democrat
By failing to disclose his finances, Arrojo clearly broke the law, the Federal Elections Commission’s acting general counsel, Christopher Hughey, wrote in a memo that nevertheless termed the complaints against Arrojo “low-rated matters.”
Hughey closed the case in June 2011, and Arrojo was just sent letters reminding him that he broke the law.
But though that FEC complaint has been closed, federal authorities could still charge Arrojo or Garcia if they determine the two intentionally hid money or, in Arrojo’s case, lied to the FEC.
Regardless of Arrojo or Jeffrey Garcia’s fates, Joe Garcia could experience the most immediate backlash.
The congressman has drawn at least three Republican challengers, all of whom have questioned what he knew about Jeffrey Garcia’s activities on behalf of his campaign and when he knew it.
“Congressman Garcia has not been contacted by the FBI, so this is the first he hears of this. And as he has previously stated, he does not know Mr. Arrojo,” said Garcia’s new chief of staff, Raul Martinez Jr. “Mr. Garcia stands fully ready to cooperate with authorities.”