South Miami Commissioner Josh Liebman has pleaded no contest to a complaint that he violated a section in the city code of ethics ordinance by endorsing a candidate for office during an Oct. 15 commission meeting.
Liebman paid a settlement of $750 to the Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics and Public Trust.
“I said I would like to see women and more minorities represented in South Miami,” Liebman said. “South Miami is 40 percent Anglo, 35 percent Hispanic, and 25 percent black. I said I felt we needed more women on the dais and Hispanic representation and representation from the African-American community. Certain interests are not represented.”
Liebman agreed there was probably cause that he violated the “use of public property section” when he supported candidate Donna Shelley in February’s election during the “commissioner’s comments” portion of the October meeting. The meeting was televised and web-streamed and the broadcast is maintained on the city website, which is a public resource.
Commissioner Gabriel Edmond defeated Shelley in the February election.
“I’m endorsing Donna Shelley,” Liebman said at the October meeting. “You can look at this commission. It’s not a very diverse commission. We only have one woman on this commission. We certainly need diversity up here. I’d support Donna Shelley regardless, but she just happens to be a woman. Harvard and MIT educated. She served on every board and she was a grant writer for the city. I encourage everyone to take the time to know her. If you can help her campaign and fundraise, it will be much appreciated. She’s certainly what the city needs.”
Mayor Philip Stoddard said that he did not report Liebman to the ethics commission.
“I didn’t report him,” Stoddard said. “The investigator on the ethics commission did ask me about it. What (Liebman) did obviously was illegal. It seemed like a reasonable way to handle it and get it over with.”