Mas withdraws candidacy for Public Health Trust

Jose Ramon Mas, chief executive of the engineering and construction firm MasTec, has withdrawn his name from consideration for the Public Health Trust, the board that runs Jackson Health System, Miami-Dade’s public hospital network.

Mas, the favored candidate of the nominating committee charged with filling the vacancy on Jackson’s board, cited a potential conflict of interest when he withdrew his candidacy in a Sept. 10 letter addressed to Darryl Sharpton, the board chairman.

Mas disclosed the conflict himself on his application to serve on Jackson’s board — noting that his brother, Juan Carlos Mas, is a member of Miami Children’s Hospital’s board of directors.

Under the ethics standards for members of Jackson’s board, immediate family members cannot have a “material interest” that competes with Miami-Dade’s public hospital system, which costs $1.5 billion a year to operate.

Jackson’s Holtz Children’s Hospital competes with Miami Children’s for patients in a number of medical services, including obstetrics and pediatric cardiology.

In his letter to Sharpton, Mas wrote, “My only alternative would be to ask my brother to terminate his own commitment to growing and improving healthcare in South Florida, which I cannot in good conscience do.’’

Jackson’s board adopted the ethics standards in 2011, when the hospital system was in the midst of a severe financial crisis.

When the committee nominated Mas on Aug. 30 to fill the vacancy, it agreed to seek a ruling on the potential conflict from the Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics and Public Trust. The nominating committee has since withdrawn that request.

The committee nominated three other potential candidates as well. They’re scheduled to be interviewed Thursday. They are Daniel Kavanaugh, a retired attorney and former committee counsel in the U.S. House of Representatives; Robin Reiter-Faragalli, a past member of Jackson’s board and former interim president of the Beacon Council; and Calixto Garcia, a neuropsychologist with extensive experience in public health.

The County Commission ultimately will select and appoint the hospital board member in October from among the recommendations. One nominee and two alternates must be recommended by Friday.

The board vacancy was created in June when past member Stephen Nuell resigned amid a county ethics investigation that found “probable cause” Nuell — a personal injury attorney — abused his public position to benefit himself and his law firm by contacting members of Jackson’s business office in attempts to resolve claims for private legal clients who owed money to the hospital.

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