Former Miami Beach Commissioner Michael Góngora is getting a good head start on his bid to get his seat back, raising $70,000 (including a $20,000 loan to himself) for the Group 3 race in his first month.
By comparison, the two others bidding for the open seat — because Commissioner Joy Malakoff doesn’t want to be there if Mayor Philip Levine ain’t — combined haven’t raised half of that, according to the latest campaign finance reports filed last week: Adrian Gonzalez , owner of the well-known Cuban eatery David’s Cafe, has raised $23,738 in three months, and Cindy Mattson, a consultant who is a former compliance officer with the U.S. Department of Labor, has raised $7,000, including a $5,000 loan to herself and a $1,000 contribution from. Mattson has also spent the most, with consultant Miriam Almer getting $3,000 and $625 for event supplies. The two boys haven’t spent $1,000 yet, neither one of them, but for some reason it seems like it’s going to e a showdown between them two.
Almost a third of Góngora’s money comes from addresses outside of Miami Beach and it also includes some bundling, most notably $5,000 from businesses owned by James Cavanaugh, who owns and manages and may want to redevelop several properties in South Beach. He also has $2,000 each from the owner of Mango’s and from lobbyist Manny Prieguez. But Góngora also has a ton of smaller checks from a personal trainer and a speech therapist and quite a few activists like Frank and Marian Del Vecchio and Ray Breslin, who is president of the Collins Park Residents Association. These are people who not only vote, but drum up votes from others.
About a third of Gonzalez’s $24K treasure chest is also from outside the city — from as far away as New York and Philadelphia and Scarborough, Maine. There’s no obvious bundling but there is some development and construction money, as well as sympatico restaurants like Sliderz and Munchies Cafe and bars with names like Foxhole and Drunken Dragon. Gonzalez has been president of the Lincoln Road merchants association and instrumental in bringing some new events to South Beach, but he is running as a family man, only having photographs of himself with his wife and two daughters on his website.
One of the most interesting contributions, so far, is a $1,000 maximum gift from Gayety Theaters, also known as Club Madonna on Washington Avenue, which has been at odds with the city for years and is now in litigation with it.
The strip club was already at fighting with city officials in 2014 over the owner’s request for a liquor license (denied) when authorities found a 13-year-old runaway girl stripping there by force of three other people who were ultimately charged by police. City Manager Jimmy Morales revoked Club Madonna’s business license. But two weeks later, he reinstated it after the club promised to put in measures that would prevent underage girls from dancing there. A year later, city commissioners passed a human trafficking ordinance requiring stricter records and that strip venues — of which there really only is one — hire a manager to guarantee legal requirements for the nude dancers are met.
So a few months ago, Club Madonna owner Leroy Griffith sued the city of Miami Beach. He says that the new rules have little to do with stopping human trafficking and more to do with shutting down the only strip club on the beach.
Góngora said Griffith offered him a check last month, but he declined.
“He only gives contributions in exchange for a promise to support alcohol and nudity,” Góngora told Ladra.
Okay, sure, but then what do James Cavanaugh and Manny Prieguez give contributions in exchange for?