Commissioner Deede Weithorn’s June 21 letter, Transparency needed, about donations to political committees was a manifesto of hypocrisy, an assault on the right to free speech and short-sighted public policy.
The U.S. Supreme Court has held that donations in the political process are equal to free speech.
As a matter of law, the city cannot regulate this form of free speech for political committees, political parties or candidates for non-city offices.
Weithorn knows this, but she nonetheless attacks those who come before the city on procurement matters.
In fact, she would interrogate them on their legal practice of free speech, demanding to know who or what entity they have contributed to.
Worse yet, Weithorn voted based on political contributions, not on the merits.
The hypocrisy is clear. The organization Common Sense, which is controlled by commission candidate Mark Weithorn, has solicited money from lobbyists and vendors. And former Commissioner Michael Gongora went a step further.
During his 2013 failed mayoral run, Gongora raised money for a corporation based in Nevada and controlled by his mother. That organization was not subject to Florida’s online campaign finance reporting.
The committee I created is legal, transparent on the Florida Division of Elections website that’s updated monthly and has a long-term mission to promote good government in the state, county, and city.
Rather than demagoguery and efforts to witch-hunt political free speech, I propose these reforms:
▪ Require, just as the state does, that elected city officials to publicly disclose political committees they raise money for and put the burden on the elected official, not the proposer as Weithorn would.
▪ Adopt a city resolution urging the Miami-Dade County Commission to prohibit all elected officials in the county from soliciting political donations from lobbyists, developers and vendors so that this policy applies to all.
Weithorn’s proposal only isolates and ties Miami Beach’s hands politically. In fact, it would prevent local officials from winning positions of higher office in the future.
Jonah Wolfson, commissioner, Miami Beach and the chairman, Relentless for Progress Political Committee