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Amy Sherman
By Amy Sherman June 29, 2012

No progress on promise about lobbyists

Carlos Gimenez vowed to create more transparency about lobbying.

During the 2011 campaign, Gimenez signed a pledge vowing several reforms by Norman Braman, the wealthy auto magnate who led the recall of the previous mayor. Here is what the pledge said about lobbying:  

"Avoid conflicts of interests in county lobbying activities by requiring public disclosures related to lobbying activities and prohibiting any person or entity who lobbies on the county's behalf from lobbying county government on behalf of others during such county representation.”

Miami Dade already requires those who lobby the county to register with the clerk of the board. Persons or entities that employ a lobbyist must file an activity authorization form, and principals and lobbyists must file forms stating that the lobbyists will not get any contingency or success fees -- for example, for getting a particular law passed. Registered lobbyists are required to file lobbyist expenditure reports with the Clerk of the Board detailing lobbying expenses. The public can also look up the names of lobbyists to read their clients or the name of a firm or entity and see who is registered to lobby on their behalf. Lobbyists can seek waivers of conflicts of interest -- the Miami-Dade Ethics Commission makes a recommendation and the Commission has the final say.

While Gimenez was a county commissioner running for mayor, he sponsored a resolution asking voters to amend the charter to state that the county shall not enter into contracts with lobbyists unless the contracts forbid the lobbyists from lobbying the county on behalf of other entities during the term of contract. That resolution failed May 3, 2011.

In March the county commission voted to require lobbyists to undergo ethics training. But a committee of county commissioners voted down a proposal that would make them double the amount of the time they have to wait to four years before leaving office to return as lobbyists.

Braman told us in a March interview that the main point of the lobbying portion of the pledge was to prohibit county lobbyists from lobbying on behalf of other clients before the county.

Gimenez doesn't consider the Braman pledge he signed as equal to his campaign promises, according to his spokeswoman Suzy Trutie.

"After consulting with the Mayor, he considers his campaign promises to be the promises he made during the campaign. He signed Mr. Braman's covenant because he agrees with, and/or, supports Mr. Braman's proposals. The Mayor's immediate priorities are the Fiscal Year 2012-2013 budget, implementing his reorganization plan, and charter review. His long term priorities include reviewing the proposals in Mr. Braman's covenant and exploring the feasibility of each one.”

We understand that a mayor has to prioritize some goals above others. But we think that by signing Braman's pledge, along with other candidates, during the campaign that the statements in the pledge constitute campaign promises. And when we sent a copy of the promises we would evaluate Gimenez on after he won and before we unveiled the Carlos-O-Meter, his office did not dispute the Braman pledge promises at the time.

If Gimenez re-visits lobbying reform we will re-examine this item but for now we rate this Promise Broken.

Our Sources

Miami-Dade County, Commission item about ethics training for lobbyists, March 6, 2012

Miami-Dade County Clerk of the Board, Lobbyist registration, Accessed March 8, 2012

Miami Herald, "Miami-Dade Commissioners criticize new ethics rules on tickets,” March 6, 2012

Miami Herald, "Miami-Dade Commissioners kill effort to extend post-tenure lobbying ban,” March 14, 2012

Interview, Keith Knowles, Miami-Dade County lobbyist registrar, March 8, 2012

Interview, Kimberly Maroe, Broward County spokeswoman, March 6, 2012

Interview, Joe Centorino, Miami-Dade Ethics Commission executive director, March 6, 2012

Interview, Norman Braman, businessman, March 8, 2012

Interview, Suzy Trutie, spokeswoman for Miami-Dade County, March 12 and June 19, 2012

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