As Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez revs up fund-raising for his 2016 reelection bid, it’s worth looking back at the backers of his previous mayoral campaigns.
Dade Data sorted through 3,663 campaign-finance entries from Gimenez’s successful mayoral runs in 2011 and 2012 to tally his Top 20 donors from both races. In all, he raised $3.7 million for the two races through his actual campaign account and an allied political committee named Common Sense Now. Roughly $870,000 (23 percent of the total) came from his top 20 donors.
Leon Medical Center, a top HMO in the Miami area, came in first with $75,000 in total donations. Second place went to the $65,000 from Genting, the Malaysian gaming company that wants to build a casino resort on the old Miami Herald site in downtown Miami. Turnberry, the developer hoping for a change in county zoning rules for a western shopping center, took third place with $60,000.
Duty Free Americas, which runs shops at county-owned Miami International Airport, secured fourth place with $55,000 in donations, and the Miami Dolphins, which negotiated a stadium-subsidy package with Gimenez last year, rounded out the Top 5 with just under $51,000 in donations.
Three of the donors from the 2011 and 2012 cycles later won Gimenez’s early support last year for millions of dollars from a dormant economic-development fund that gets its cash from property taxes.
Jeff Berkowitz, whose SkyRise Miami observation tower recently won a $9 million economic-development subsidy championed by Gimenez, landed on No. 9 with $41,000 in donations. Leonard Abess, the prominent retired banker, is the majority owner of a private-jet terminal at the county’s Opa-locka airport that won a $5 million subsidy from the same program. Companies and individuals tied to him combined to give $38,500 to Gimenez, landing Abess the No. 11 spot.
Wayne Rosen, a developer active in political circles, initially won the Gimenez administration’s backing to give $5 million to his planned mixed-use project in Palmetto Bay. Gimenez later yanked his recommendation amid backlash over his original grant plan, and Rosen didn’t get the earmark. Gimenez also withdrew his endorsement of $5 million for Abess’ Orion Jet Center, but commissioners awarded the facility the subsidy anyway.
(Michael Hernández, Gimenez’s spokesman, wrote Dade Data to point out the administration opposed Turnberry’s zoning change, which failed when commissioners declined to approve it. Turnberry is free to try again.)
Dade Data grouped donations together by researching corporate or organizational ties to each address listed as giving at least $5,000 to the Gimenez effort. The earliest donation went to Common Sense Now in November 2010, about eight months before Gimenez, then a county commissioner, won the mayoral seat vacated by the March 15, 2011, recall of Carlos Alvarez. Gimenez won the post-recall election on June 28, 2011, and had raised about $1 million by then.
As an incumbent, he raised another $2.7 million, with some donations coming in after his successful re-election on Aug. 14, 2012. Donations continued to trickle in after the election, and records show Gimenez collected about $9,000 through the end of 2012. No contributions have been recorded since January 2013.
The Gimenez camp is expected to release its first fund-raising report this week from a new political committee, Miami-Dade Residents First.