In a statement, Carlisle’s attorney, Jeff Marcus, a former federal prosecutor, said the developer hired Carey-Shuler in April 2006 to provide consulting services involving “marketing, business development and expert advice.”
“Dr. Carey-Shuler has been an integral part of our effort to meet the community’s need for affordable housing and successfully partner with local governments and communities,” Marcus said.
Legally, he said, “the terms of her retention specifically required that all services be provided in compliance with ... Miami-Dade County’s Conflict of Interests and Code of Ethics Ordinance. Current Carlisle management has reviewed the engagement of Eclectic seven years ago and is confident that the consultancy terms were appropriate and proper.”
Asked why Carlisle never had Carey-Shuler register as a county lobbyist, Marcus said she only played the role of a consultant.
According to the Miami-Dade state attorney’s records, Carlisle issued the $170,000 to Carey-Shuler in a series of 21 checks for $5,000, $7,500 and $10,000 between April 2006 and December 2007. She deposited those checks in her account at Bank of America, according to a spreadsheet summary in the public records.
Carlisle’s payments to Carey-Shuler “at a minimum raise serious questions about her compliance with the Miami-Dade ethics ordinance,” said University of Miami law professor Anthony Alfieri, who runs the school’s Center for Ethics and Public Service.
“Moreover, the importance of the real estate industry to South Florida, especially in the redevelopment of low-income communities, underscores the need for an open, transparent, and accountable process to monitor the spending of millions of public and private dollars on affordable-housing projects and to ensure the ethical compliance of lobbyists,” Alfieri said.
Carlisle was not the only Miami-Dade business awarded multimillion-dollar deals at County Hall, and then hired Carey-Shuler as a consultant after she left office.
Among the others: EBS Engineering, Inc., in Hialeah, which paid the former commissioner a total of $84,000 for “consulting work” in Broward and Palm Beach counties between May 2006 and December 2007, according to the spreadsheet summary of her check deposits by the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office.
Another local engineering company: EAC Consulting, Inc., which paid Carey-Shuler a total of $65,000 between June 2006 and May 2007, the state attorney’s spreadsheet shows.
Also, a political consulting business, operated by well-known lobbyist Rosario Kennedy, paid Carey-Shuler $75,000 in 2007, stemming from the former commissioner’s work on a proposed luxury condominium project by The Related Group near Mercy Hospital in Miami. The project, never built, was the subject of a criminal investigation by the state attorney’s office. No charges were filed.
The two engineering companies did not return calls for comment. Both have done extensive design and other technical work for the county on roads, bridges and airports, but they are not under criminal investigation like Carlisle.
Over the past year, a federal grand jury in Miami has been investigating allegations that Carlisle’s chief executive officer, Matthew S. Greer, former CEO, Lloyd J. Boggio, and other companies bilked the U.S. government’s tax-credit program designed to promote affordable-housing development.
Carlisle is suspected of padding construction costs of rental apartments to generate higher government-issued tax credits — then splitting the resulting unlawful profits with a Fort Lauderdale contractor, BJ&K, and possibly others, according to sources familiar with the investigation by the Internal Revenue Service and FBI.
Carlisle’s former CEO, Boggio, authorized the hiring of Carey-Shuler as a consultant in early 2006. Boggio’s defense attorney, Scott Srebnick, declined to comment, deferring to Carlisle’s company statement.
Regarding the federal investigation, Carlisle has said it is “cooperating fully and is confident that it will be vindicated.”
Carey-Shuler was first appointed to the Miami-Dade Commission in 1979 in the aftermath of the so-called McDuffie riots — sparked by the police beating and slaying of an African-American motorcyclist.
Over her career, she emerged as an influential champion of the county’s black community, leading efforts to pass local laws to set aside government contracts for minority business owners.
In 2002, Carey-Shuler — whose district included the Miami communities of Liberty City, Little Haiti, Overtown, the Upper Eastside, Allapattah and Wynwood, along with the village of Miami Shores — was named the first African-American woman to serve as the commission’s chairperson.
By the end of 2005, she announced the end of her political career, citing concerns about the health of family members. Her husband, James Lamar Shuler, owner of a Delray Beach funeral home, died in October 2006.