North Miami - NMB

Union takes legal action against political consultant blamed for an illegal attack ad

This attack ad circulated in North Miami Beach just weeks before the November elections.
This attack ad circulated in North Miami Beach just weeks before the November elections.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees plans to file Friday for an immediate legal injunction against a political consultant in North Miami Beach for an attack ad it says was wrongfully — and illegally — attributed to the union’s political action committee. AFSCME’s legal team sent cease and desist letters to both the consultant and print shop suspected of being behind the illegal mailer.

The mailer in question circulated this week in the Miami-Dade city suggests mayoral candidate Anthony DeFillipo is a mob boss. “Tony ‘Soprano’ DeFilipo’s crime family is asking for your support,” the mailer says, spelling the candidate’s name wrong. On the back, it lists a handful of other candidates with nicknames under their photos like ”Capo,” “Associate,” “Godfather,” “Lobbyist Boss,” and “The Recruit,” and accuses them of trying to “sell the city.”

The small print says the mailer was paid for by AFSCME People, the political action committee for the nation’s largest union representing public sector employees.

Neither the union not its political action committee, AFSCME People, created or paid for the mailer, said the union’s political director, Jacqui Carmona. AFSCME did endorse a slate of candidates in North Miami Beach, opponents of those listed on the flier, but does not support the content of the attack ad, she said.

“We denounce these defamatory and offensive attacks against these candidates,” Carmona said.

After becoming aware of the mailer, AFSCME issued a cease and desist letter to G Print, the Hialeah-based printer of the ad, and Hector Roos, the political operative the union believes ultimately commissioned and designed the illegal mailer. It’s against election law to misrepresent the interests behind a political mailer. “We are going to work toward taking full legal action to who was responsible,” Carmona said.

AFSCME has filed a mail fraud complaint with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service in an effort to keep any more of the mailers from being sent out. Representatives of the union said they also filed a police report with the Hialeah Police Department, naming consultant Hector Roos as the political operative behind the ad. The union plans to file a verified emergency injunction against Roos, a media company called Thor media, and G Print. The union’s legal team is reviewing the injunction and expects to file Friday, Oct. 19.

G Print owner Gilbert Gutierrez said his company is not responsible for the mailer. “I’m just a printer,” Gutierrez said. “I printed the material that was given to me.” Gutierrez said he immediately threw the union’s cease and desist letter into the garbage because his company has no legal responsibility for the content of the ad.

Roos called the allegations against him “nuts” and responded with the following statement:

“I respect Mr. Defillipo as a friend, a leader truly concerned for his city, and a fellow lifelong conservative. After months of working with him to develop his campaign, his accusations of me being responsible for mailers attacking him on the basis of his character or his past are ridiculous. If he would listen to good advice, he should treat this situation as a great opportunity to showcase the strong leadership abilities I know him to have and lead North Miami Beach in denouncing these tactics.”

The Miami Herald could not independently verify that it was DeFillipo that led the union to Roos; DeFillipo had not responded to the Herald’s requests for information late Friday afternoon. However, Gutierrez told the Miami Herald that Roos commissioned the work.

Sixteen candidates are vying for six seats in North Miami Beach after a tumultuous year in which resignations and criminal charges against two commissioners left the commission with a majority of appointees.