Downtown/Biscayne Corridor

Miami District 5 election

Dunn’s campaign-finance report shows many visits to restaurants

 
 
Richard P. Dunn II during a press conference at Miami City Hall in 2011.
Richard P. Dunn II during a press conference at Miami City Hall in 2011.
PETER ANDREW BOSCH / MIAMI HERALD file

crabin@miamiherald.com

A copy of Miami City Commission candidate Richard P. Dunn II’s most recent campaign finance report shows an unusually high number of visits to restaurants, and a particular fondness for fast food, seafood and barbecue.

The frontrunner for the city’s District 5 seat was almost three weeks late in submitting his most recent treasurer’s report with the city — until it showed up late Thursday afternoon in the clerk’s office.

Dwight Danie, who oversees city elections in the clerk’s office, said the documents were postmarked Oct. 4, the day they were due, and that “it looks like it got stuck in the post office.”

Had the financial report not shown the Oct. 4 date, Dunn, the senior pastor at Faith Community Baptist Church, could have been fined $500 for each day it was late.

Dunn’s records were available prior to late Thursday, however, because he faxed the clerk’s office a copy of the report showing contributions and expenses from July through September. State statute requires the report to be mailed or hand-delivered.

Danie said he contacted Dunn and the three other challengers vying for Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones’ District 5 seat the day before the reports were due to remind them of the impending deadline. The election is Nov. 5. Dunn was sent a letter last week listing the Florida statute that calls for the hefty fine.

Dunn did not answer questions from The Miami Herald. He did not return repeated calls to his cell phone, his treasurer’s office, his church, or a number listed to his home. He didn’t return text messages, and attempts to reach him through friends and supporters were unsuccessful.

The copy of the faxed report received by the clerk’s office on Oct. 21 shows Dunn’s campaign spent more than $2,500 on 60 visits in July, August and September to restaurants including Conch Heaven, Shorty’s Barbecue, Snapper’s Fish and Chicken, and Captain Jim’s Seafood.

The commissioner’s report shows the campaign frequently paid bills for visits to sushi restaurants, and spent $362.55 on three visits to the 94th Aero Squadron, a restaurant on Perimeter Road next to Miami International Airport.

The campaign also paid for meals at Royal Castle and McDonald’s.

A number of times the campaign visited several food establishments on a single day, the report shows. On Aug. 26, the campaign spent $121.71 at Jackson’s Soul Food, Wendy’s, TGIF’s and the Blue Collar restaurant.

State statutes say candidates or their spouses can’t use campaign funds to defray normal living expenses. An exception is expenses incurred for transportation, meals, and lodging by the candidate or a family member during travel in the course of the campaign.

Dunn’s report shows he spent $7,568 in advertising, printing and phone banks during the most recent quarter. But that represented a small percentage of the $71,300 he raised during the quarter.

Dunn has far outraised the three other challengers to the District 5 seat. The records show none of the other candidates has spent anything close to what Dunn has on food.

Assistant Miami-Dade Public Defender Keon Hardemon raised $51,404 over the past three months. Children’s Trust executive Jacqui Colyer raised $34,748 during the same time period. And substitute teacher Robert Malone Jr. raised $8,875 the past three months.

Brittany Lesser, spokeswoman for the state’s division of elections, said all campaign finance forms are reviewed by her office.

“When information on a campaign finance report indicates a willful violation of the election code, the division of elections passes it to the Florida Elections Commission,” which could fine a candidate, Lesser said. She wouldn’t comment directly on Dunn’s report.

The copy of Dunn’s treasurer’s report submitted to the Miami city clerk’s office also shows the Dunn campaign spent $224 on a Florida Power & Light bill on Sept. 11 for the campaign’s headquarters, though it doesn’t list an address. It also shows the campaign paid Charles Kabbaby $1,500 on Aug. 20 for rent, though no address is listed.

Money woes have dogged Dunn, 52, who is married and has two children, for decades.

In the early 1990s, while at Drake Memorial Baptist Church, Dunn resigned as assistant pastor after confessing to the board of trustees that he had used church funds for personal expenses. Dunn eventually paid the church back. Public records show that his wife Daphne filed for personal bankruptcy in January 2012.

County records also show the couple owes $1,214.88 in property taxes from 2012. The county has offered a certificate, which means anyone purchasing the debt has the right to foreclose on the home after three years. The couple could pay the debt off before then.

Dunn’s financial report also shows the campaign might be having trouble clearing checks.

Thirteen times between July and the end of September the campaign paid $34 for what appear to be insufficient-fund fees to Chase Bank, where records filed with the city clerk show Dunn keeps his campaign account.

Dunn has represented Miami’s District 5 twice before. The first time was in the late 1990s when he was chosen to replace Miller Dawkins after the commissioner was removed from office. Then her served again for 21 months during Spence-Jones’ second term, when she was suspended after being charged with two felonies. Spence-Jones was acquitted of the first, and the second charge was later dropped.

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