Politically connected billionaire launches effort to recall Miami-Dade mayor

By | 09.28.10 | 12:01 pm

An auto dealer and the former owner of the Philadelphia Eagles football team, Norman Braman, has launched a campaign to recall Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Alvarez.

The Miami Herald reports today:

For the second time this year, the county mayor has been targeted for recall. Unlike the unsuccessful effort waged on a shoestring budget by a Coral Gables retiree, this campaign is backed by Norman Braman — a billionaire auto dealer who has used his private fortune to battle public officials.

Braman’s move comes after the mayor and eight county commissioners approved a 13 percent property tax rate increase last week to plug a budget hole, and after mounting criticism over other county spending.

“This outrageous tax increase has been enacted while citizens are suffering economically, property values have crumbled, foreclosures are rampant, and unemployment has reached almost 13 percent in our county,” said Braman, joined at a news conference in his Miami office Monday morning by Rep. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, majority whip in the Legislature and a Miami Republican.

Florida Division of Elections data show Braman has made campaign contributions to candidates from both major political parties.

His largest contribution ($25,000) went to the Florida First Initiative, a 527 group that was closely associated with Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum during his failed Republican gubernatorial bid this year.

Besides Braman, the Florida First Initiative’s list of contributers includes Republican elected officials Lincoln and Mario Diaz-Balart, Ander Crenshaw and Tom Rooney to name a few, as well as companies from the real estate, pharmaceutical, tourist, health care, investment and construction industries.

Braman contributed to both Dave Aronberg and Dan Gelber, who competed against each other for the Democratic nomination in the attorney general race. Gelber defeated Aronberg in the Aug. 24 primary. Braman has also contributed to the campaigns of state Rep. Dwight M. Bullard, D-Miami, and state Sen. Nan H. Rich, D-Sunrise.

In addition to supporting McCollum, Braman has given money to state Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, R-Miami, as well as state Reps. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, R-Miami, and Rene Garcia, R-Hialeah.

The Florida Division of Elections list also includes Republican Jeanette Nunez’s campaign for District 112, vacated by David Rivera, as well as U.S Rep. Adam Putnam, R-Bartow, who is running to become Florida’s Secretary of Agriculture. Contributions have also gone to state Sen. David Rivera, R-Miami, who faces Democrat Joe Garcia in the race to represent U.S. House District 25 in November.

Norman Braman is not new to South Florida battles. In 2008 he opposed the public funding for the Florida Marlins baseball stadium currently under construction in the Little Havana area of Miami. In that same year he also filed legal action against a $3 billion remake of downtown Miami.

Follow Marcos Restrepo on Twitter


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