Miami-Dade County

Whoops! Related Group solicits political donations for wrong campaign

Miami Commissioner Frank Carollo can’t seek a third term in the same position but has been considering a run for mayor.
Miami Commissioner Frank Carollo can’t seek a third term in the same position but has been considering a run for mayor. El Nuevo Herald

As one of Miami’s biggest and most politically active development firms, it’s not unusual for Related Group to support elected officials or help them raise money.

But it was odd last week to see general counsel Betsy McCoy raising money for a campaign that doesn’t exist.

“I need your help with a fundraiser for the election of Frank Carollo for City of Miami Commissioner — District 3,” an assistant for McCoy wrote on her behalf March 27 in an email to dozens of attorneys from firms like Greenberg Traurig, Bilzin Sumberg and Coffey Burlington. “I should say more accurately ‘The Related Group needs your help.’ May we count on you or your firm to help with a donation between $200.00 and $1,000.00?”

Here’s the thing: Carollo, first elected in 2009, is stepping down from his commission post in November due to limits that allow commissioners to serve only two consecutive terms. He is legally prohibited from seeking a third term representing District 3.

So, what gives?

“An assistant to Betsy McCoy sent an email in effort to support Frank Carollo’s future opportunities,” a Related Group spokeswoman wrote in an email. “The reference to Miami Commissioner — District 3 was a clerical error, and a formal correction was issued the same day.”

But the email was still revealing, because it shows that Carollo is raising soft money, which can be used to support his own political endeavors or the campaigns of others. Carollo acknowledged months ago that he is mulling a run for mayor.

McCoy asked recipients of her email to donate money to United for Good Government, a political committee registered with the Florida Division of Elections and chaired by accountant Ed Torgas. The committee, formed Dec. 16, has yet to report any contributions.

Carollo said in a brief interview Friday that he was unaware of the email, first reported by blogger Al Crespo.

“This is the first I’m hearing of it. So I have no comment,” he said. “I don’t believe I know Betsy and obviously I won’t be running for the seat I’m termed out from.”

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