Doral Mayor Luigi Boria pays $325 fine for breaking state campaign finance laws

Doral Mayor Luigi Boria delivers the state of the city address at Doral City Hall, on Tuesday Nov. 17, 2015.
Doral Mayor Luigi Boria delivers the state of the city address at Doral City Hall, on Tuesday Nov. 17, 2015. El Nuevo Herald file

Doral Mayor Luigi Boria has paid the Florida Elections Commission a $325 fine, which according to Miami-Dade ethics investigators “stemmed from his campaign for mayor in 2012 in which several state election laws regarding campaign financing and reporting were allegedly violated.”

Boria on Thursday apologized through a city spokesperson.

“I’m honoring my debts with my own money,” Boria said. “I didn’t know I had made a mistake, and I won’t do it again.”

The Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics & Public Trust probe, originally reported in October by the Miami Herald, looked into Boria’s use of office space at Delia Plaza at Northwest 107th Avenue and 58th Street. The office space was rented to Boria for $200 a month — an ethics investigator concluded that this constituted $24,700 worth of in-kind contributions that Boria’s campaign did not report.

Ethics directed the complaint to the Miami-Dade state attorney’s office for criminal investigation. Boria and his wife, Graciela Boria, were not questioned and no criminal charges were filed.

The case, however, was also referred to the Florida Elections Commission for further investigation.

Wednesday afternoon, the Ethics trust released news of Boria’s “negotiated fine of $325.” No mention was made of the alleged in-kind contributions. Instead, the official statement focused on $1,700 that Boria loaned his own campaign several weeks after the election, to cover unpaid invoices from his attorney. Florida law dictates that a candidate cannot accept contributions — even their own — after an election has ended.

“That is the violation that Boria, through his attorney, admitted to,” said the statement. “He paid a negotiated fine of $325 to the FEC.”

At Wednesday’s Doral city council meeting, no one publicly spoke about the Boria fine.

Council business

Crime in Doral: During council comments, Boria referenced a recent crime analysis done by Doral police. According to the report, Miami International Mall (22.7%) and Walmart (9%) account for nearly a third of all property and violence crimes reported in the city. Vice Mayor Christi Fraga expressed concern that the city is taking on an “unfair” share of the burden for securing these locations, and that Walmart and International Mall should do more to help. Doral Police Chief Donald De Lucca believes that the city could be better served dedicating some of these police resources toward local schools and businesses.

Clerk Certification: City Clerk Connie Diaz was given a certified municipal clerk certification during the council’s morning session. In order to earn the designation, Diaz had to attend “extensive” education programs while performing her duties as clerk. She was pinned and presented a plaque from the International Institute of Municipal Clerks stating that Diaz can go “anywhere in the world and perform the duties of a municipal clerk.” Diaz is also a member of the Miami-Dade Municipal Clerks Association.

Diaz was officially appointed clerk in March after serving as deputy clerk, and later as interim clerk, after the city fired longtime clerk Barbara Herrera over Thanksgiving weekend last year.

Local recognitions: The evening session began with a series of presentations congratulating local children, students, groups, and police officers, including:

▪ The Doral Broncos cheerleading team for its performance in the pro, prep, and peewee age groups at the Miami Extreme Cheerleading Competition held at Nova Southeastern University in November.

▪ Doral Academy’s swimming team for winning its first state championship in the school’s 16-year history.

▪ Officers Alberto Tellez, Mayrellis Cuba, Cuan Diaz Felipe, and Luis Pinon were recognized by the police department for exceptional performance of their duties.

▪ Maximiliano Andres Borges and Edgar Garcia, two high-school students, for their role in helping two victims following a violent car crash that occurred in November.

▪ Las Damas de Doral and Youth of Doral for their work in different philanthropic acitivities the community.

They said it

“The processing center that was referenced has been doing great work for decades, processing people from Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Colombia, and other areas. I think we need to be very cautious with the fact that the mental issues may be elsewhere.” – Councilwoman Sandra Ruiz, in response to allegations from a resident that the city’s immigration processing center may be used to bring in Syrian refugees.

You said it

“This morning it was insinuated that I was perhaps ‘mentally touched,’ impugning my character and questioning my dedication to my city. If your perception is that I’m ‘mentally touched,’ I hope these words will touch you.” –Luimar Garza, who used the remaining time for public comments singing a rendition of The Star-Spangled Banner at the council’s evening session.

Garza was escorted out of City Hall in November after causing a disturbance at an advisory board meeting and told that she was permanently barred from entering the public location. After initially being barred from entrance by a city police officer, she was allowed back into council chambers Wednesday morning.