Ethics Committee Eyes Miami Mayor Francis Suarez’s Subcontract With Developer – NBC 6 South Florida
The part-time job is a way of life for many in South Florida trying to keep up with the high cost of living.
Even Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, who earns $130,000 in government pay, has side jobs as an attorney, consultant, and advisor.
But now one of those agreements, which earned him $10,000 a month, according to a lawsuit this month, is catching the attention of the county’s Ethics and Public Trust Commission.
That’s because Miami Herald As first reported, the development company that pays him has allegedly said the mayor helped them deal with permitting issues with the Suarez-led city.
Suarez is allowed to be paid by private clients, but county ordinances prohibit him from using his office to obtain “special privileges or exemptions” for a client seeking a benefit from the city or being paid for “services rendered,” it said es the Executive Director of the Commission Jose Arrojo.
The Miami-Dade prosecutor says he will coordinate “our review of the allegation” with the commission.
A likely focus for investigators: a meeting that, according to internal documents obtained by the Herald — which NBC6 has not verified — says Suarez, his city manager and the CEO of Location Ventures met in July 2022 to discuss the denial to discuss an important project approval for a coconut grove by the city.
All three men denied that the meeting took place.
But, according to the Herald’s reporting, documents from the company Location Venture say Suarez helped them obtain the permits, which were approved in early January 2023.
Less than three weeks later, Suarez and the company’s CEO, Rishi Kapoor, celebrated the project at a public groundbreaking ceremony.
Suarez spokeswoman Soledad Cedro told NBC6: “The newspaper said there was a meeting between the mayor and Mr. Kapoor and the city manager and that meeting never happened.”
Kapoor, Suarez and City Manager Art Noriega did not respond to calls for comment.
A lawsuit filed against Location Ventures by a fired executive earlier this month revealed the $10,000 monthly payments to Suarez “for unknown services.”
In response, the company stated, “Suarez has a written consulting agreement … (stating) that if a conflict of interest arises, Suarez may withdraw and resign from his consulting role.”
His spokeswoman said there was no conflict.
But now investigators will take a look at what a city commissioner hailed to NBC6.
“I want to clean the air,” said Commissioner Manolo Reyes. “We want to know exactly what’s going on because we want to know whether it’s legal or illegal or not. But we can’t be in the state where we’re just guessing now.”
Attorneys involved in two lawsuits naming Locations Ventures did not respond to calls seeking comment.