Miami-Dade County

Attack ads prompt lawsuit in North Bay Village race

In North Bay Village, there’s a scuffle at the election finish line.

Commissioner Jorge Gonzalez has filed a lawsuit and an ethics complaint against his opponent, Mario Garcia, for an election flier he says wrongly hurt his image right before the Nov.4 election.

The ad pins $1 million in unpaid debt to Gonzalez and cites a Miami Herald article as a source.

The article, published Oct.13, reported that Gonzalez and others were sued in connection with a loan and that a judge ordered them to pay close to $1 million. The lender, according to the article, later stated in court papers that the judgment was satisfied, in part by selling the collateral property.

The flier, which peppered the village last week, says “Gonzales has a history of bankruptcy and judgments of nearly $1million on unpaid debt.” In larger, red bold letters, it says, “Judgement (sic) 1,000,000 un-paid debt.”

Next to a black-and-white photo, it calls Gonzalez “another sketchy North Bay Village politician.”

“I'm disappointed that Mr. Garcia chose to run a negative campaign and use dirty politics as his strategy,” Gonzalez said in an email to the Miami Herald. “It's unfortunate that [he] felt he would gain an advantage in this race by defaming my character.”

Garcia says the flier is accurate, depending on how you interpret it.

“It clearly says, ‘a history of,’” Garcia told the Miami Herald. “English is a funny language in that people can interpret things differently. There’s nothing I can do.”

Gonzalez clearly doesn’t see it that way.

In his lawsuit filed in court Friday, Gonzalez claims that Garcia “intentionally and with malice” misquoted the Herald in attacking him.

The complaint also refutes other claims in the flier about Gonzalez’s record in the village, though more briefly.

A similar complaint was also filed with the county’s Commission on Ethics and Public Trust. It accuses Garcia of violating an agreement with the county wherein all candidates agree to run a clean campaign — or refrain from publishing untrue statements about another candidate.

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