After a short public hearing, the Miami-Dade Ethics Commission recommended that Doral Mayor Luigi Boria abstain from participating in any city issue related to a real-estate project that until June was owned by his children. The panel also determined that Boria had not violated any ethics code.
However, the commission investigator, Larry Lebowitz, said that “the mayor’s money was inextricably linked to the initial capitalization of ” Grand Floridian at Doral LLC, a real-estate project that his children, Alexander and Lorena, founded in June 2012 with Venezuelan entrepreneur Juan Tovar.
The decision Thursday comes after more than five months of investigations by the commission at Boria’s request and after receiving anonymous letters denouncing the alleged conflict of interest.
Boria and his lawyer, Dexter W. Lehtinen, welcomed the ruling as they left the commission building in downtown Miami.
“Justice has been done,” Boria told el Nuevo Herald. “I am pleased that the right decision has been made. I have always recused myself from voting in any discussion on this project.”
The mayor said he had requested an opinion from the Ethics Commission to be sure that he was acting correctly.
“The law establishes that we must vote and by abstaining from doing so, I wanted to make sure that I was abiding by the law,” he said.
During the electoral campaign, Boria denied he was linked to his children’s project. However, an investigation by el Nuevo Herald in July revealed that the money given by the mayor, a total of $5 million, had served as the source of financing for the project, as the commission established.
On Thursday, Tovar’s lawyer, Félix Lasarte, also praised the commission’s ruling. He added that the Doral council’s delay in voting on the zoning of one of the two land areas of the project had a negative impact on his client.
“I’m pleased with the commission’s decision because we always do things transparently,” Lasarte said. “We always abide by the law, but our project has been affected, causing a delay of at least five months in starting to build the houses.”