THE CAPTAIN REPORTS:
On July 27, 2022, we first called out Renier Diaz de la Portilla in our Blog Post entitled: "SHAME ON YOU RENIER DIAZ DE LA PORTILLA". We followed up that story on August 9, 2022 with our post: "RENIER DIAZ DE LA PORTILLA - YOU ARE OUT OF ORDER"
Did judicial candidate Renier Diaz de la Portilla commit a crime? Did his brother, City of Miami Commissioner Alex Diaz de la Portilla commit a crime?
County Court Group 5 pits incumbent Judge Fred Seraphin versus attorney Renier Diaz de la Portilla. In late July, a campaign mailer arrived at the homes of voters throughout Miami-Dade County. The mailer was sent by a Political Action Committee (PAC) named Proven Leadership For Miami-Dade County. That campaign mailer was an attack ad against Judge Seraphin. In the mailer, the language included Judge Seraphin’s CELL PHONE NUMBER. The flyer stated in pertinent part:
CALL SERAPHIN AT 305-xxx-xxxx AND TELL HIM TO COME CLEAN.
Proven Leadership For Miami-Dade County is a registered PAC formed under the laws of the State of Florida, Department of State, and founded on April 18, 2018. The candidate it was formed to support is current City of Miami Commissioner Alex Diaz de la Portilla; (at the time the PAC was formed he was a candidate for District 5).
On May 31, 2022, the PAC donated $1,000 to the Renier Diaz de la Portilla Judicial Campaign.
On July 21, 2022, just a few days before the mailer was sent out, the PAC disclosed an Expenditure in the amount of $10,400 payable to the United States Postmaster.
On July 22, 2022,the PAC disclosed an Expenditure in the additional amount of $9,211 payable to the United States Postmaster.
And this is huge ....
On July 22, 2022, the PAC disclosed an Expenditure in the additional amount of $10,000 CASH as a Political Contribution to ... wait for it ...Local Leadership For Miami-Dade County, a State of Florida, Department of State, officially registered PAC. That PAC was formed on June 1, 2020, to support then Miami-Dade Commission candidate Renier Diaz de la Portilla.
As an aside, on August 1, 2022, the Department of State sent a letter to the Renier Diaz de la Portilla PAC advising them that they were investigating a violation of Florida law in that PACs are not permitted to donate nor accept CASH donations exceeding $50. They have asked the PAC for an explanation with a deadline of seven (7) days from receipt of the letter. As of today, no response has been filed by the Renier Diaz de la Portilla PAC.
THE LAW IN FLORIDA
CHAPTER 119 - PUBLIC RECORDS
Florida Statute 119.071 (4) (d) (2) (e), General exemptions from inspection or copying of public records.—
(4) AGENCY PERSONNEL INFORMATION.—
(d)1. For purposes of this paragraph, the term:
2. (e). The home addresses, dates of birth, and telephone numbers of current or former justices of the Supreme Court, district court of appeal judges, circuit court judges, and county court judges; the names, home addresses, telephone numbers, dates of birth, and places of employment of the spouses and children of current or former justices and judges; and the names and locations of schools and day care facilities attended by the children of current or former justices and judges are exempt from s. 119.07(1) and s. 24(a), Art. I of the State Constitution.
Florida Statute 119.10, Violation of chapter; penalties.—
(2) Any person who willfully and knowingly violates:
(a) Any of the provisions of this chapter commits a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
So, returning to our Query: Has either or both Renier and Alex Diaz de la Portilla committed a Misdemeanor of the First Degree when they willfully and knowingly were responsible for sending out a hit piece against Judge Seraphin that included Judge Seraphin’s cell phone number?
This is a Criminal Defense Blog, so let’s hear from our criminal defense attorneys.
ATTORNEY JUAN-CARLOS “JC” PLANAS .......
We also turned to local attorney JC Planas and asked him the same question. Planas has already filed Bar complaints and JQC complaints against candidates Reiner Diaz de la Portilla, Teressa Tylman (Cervera), and Mark Blumstein. Planas has been one of the go to attorneys in Florida when it comes to elections, candidates, and campaigns. Here is what JC had to say:
The releasing of the number is definitely a crime. Ironically, even though everyone seems to call this Alex’s PC, the expenditures indicate its under Renier’s control. The Portillas are notorious for using campaign funds for private expenses. As just one example, Renier has been pumping gas at the same station as per the reports and alternates between paying for gas from the PC and his campaign card. Because he is using PC for these expenses, we can prove he is in control of the PC and thus he released the number.
I will be contacting Tim Vandergiessen* on this as well."
*Tim Vandergiessen is Chief of the Public Corruption Unit at the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office.