Staffer for Miami mayoral candidate Suarez trashes constituents on Twitter

08/13/2013 5:05 PM

09/08/2014 6:49 PM

A staffer for Miami Commissioner Francis Suarez, who is running for city mayor, has been bashing constituents online using her personal Twitter account.

Christina Haramboure, a 24-year-old special aide and administrative assistant in Suarez’s District 4 office, has complained about her job using the Twitter handle @ChristinaHam — at one point this week suggesting that constituents get a lobotomy.

“Dear Constituents...PLEASE GET A LIFE, A HOBBY, A LOBOTOMY ... whatever,” Haramboure posted Monday.

Later in the day, she tweeted, “It amazes me how much people like to call here & b*itch at me ALLL DAY. their lives must really suck #leavemealone #socrabby #angryoldpeople.”

Suarez, Haramboure’s boss, has made a push over the past few months to harness the power of social media in reaching out to younger voters who have not typically participated in Miami municipal elections. Suarez, 35, is challenging incumbent Tomás Regalado, 66, in November’s election.

Haramboure said in an email to the Miami Herald/El Nuevo Herald on Tuesday that her posts “are not a reflection of my attitude toward constituents.”

“Over the last two years, I have worked tirelessly to help hundreds of constituents, and I have made great personal sacrifices to continue serving the residents of District 4,” she said. “I regret the Twitter postings and I apologize to anyone I may have hurt.”

In an interview earlier Tuesday, Suarez said he was unaware of Haramboure’s tweets. He does not follow Haramboure from his own Twitter account, @FrancisSuarez.

After he approached her about the tweets, Suarez said Haramboure apologized. She also deleted her Twitter account.

“She admitted and took responsibility for the messages,” Suarez said. “This is not the way we treat constituents.”

The commissioner said Haramboure offered to resign, but he decided she should keep her job, having learned a lesson about venting her work-related frustrations. She does not work for his campaign.

“This has come to light now because I’m in a political election,” Suarez said. Everyone, he added, is “capable of making a mistake.”

While his office does not have a formal social-media policy, Suarez said he spoke with all his staff Tuesday about the perils of making statements online. His team takes pride in its constituent outreach, posting thank-you notes on an office bulletin board, according to the commissioner.

Suarez described Haramboure as an “overqualified” receptionist who was particularly frustrated Monday — when she posted a series of tweets about constituents — because she was doing extra work to cover for a colleague who was out sick.

Haramboure was hired in November 2011 at a starting salary of $24,000. At the time, she said she was finishing her degree in biology at Florida International University. Last January she was given a $7,000 raise because, according to her personnel file, she had completed her MBA, also at FIU. The pay hike was also intended to partially offset an increase in health-insurance premiums.

Suarez declined to say who recommended Haramboure to work in his office.

“I’ve known her for a while,” he said.

The tweets mark the second personnel-related embarrassment for Suarez during his mayoral run. One of his campaign workers, Juan Pablo Baggini, had his home raided in June after county elections workers flagged 20 absentee-ballot requests made in May that were linked to Baggini’s computer.

State law requires that mail-in ballot requests be submitted by voters or their immediate family members. Suarez has said the 20 voters had given the campaign permission to file the requests and no one intentionally broke the law. No charges have been filed in the ongoing investigation.

Haramboure’s tweets about her job go back for more than a year. Some of the posts are in Spanish. Others are riddled with misspellings or abbreviations.

Take this post from March 20, 2012: “Man calls office: I need trash pick up on 28 st Me: That’s not our disctrict. Man: Do you know the city of Miami?! Me: Are u serious?? #dumb”

Or this one from two days later: “Sending a letter to the commissioner for him to help your neighborhood, without your address...this is what i deal w on a daily basis #locos”

Locos is Spanish for crazies.

Haramboure seemed to dislike much about her position.

“My dream job: one where I don’t have to be nice to any one. #thatsrightisaidit,” she posted on July 11, 2012.

Last week, Haramboure used explicit language to express her disdain for some of the constituents who elected her boss into office.

“Only the true morons come in here & want to circumvent me & speak to someone ‘more important’ #f--koff #ihateconstituents #forthemostpart,” she posted on Aug. 6.

The next day, she added: “So I’m a little dramatic on twitter today, but that’s what Twitter is for right??”

However, she had taken a more philosophical tone on Aug. 5. “You live, you learn,” she posted.

Miami Herald political writer Marc Caputo contributed to this report.

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