In the recursive infinity that makes up the Miami politics-ethical violations swirl, there now lies another little David vs. Goliath nugget: City of Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado told the Miami Herald he has been fined $1,000 thanks to a November ethics complaint from dogged local blogger Al Crespo.
Crespo, a 70-year-old former bank robber-turned watchdog whose Crespo-Gram Report has long been the bain of shifty or lazy city employees, filed an ethics complaint November 28 claiming that Regalado failed to list the value of his home on financial disclosure forms (see a copy of the complaint here). Buried at the bottom of a Tuesday Miami Herald article about possible campaign finance penalties for Regalado is his admission that the Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics and Public Trust has sided with Crespo:
Regalado said he agreed to pay $1,000 in fines to the ethics commission for not properly disclosing the value of his house and personal belongings...In his 2011 financial disclosures, Regalado declared a net worth of $9,300. The disclosure failed to note the value of his Shenandoah home, which according to the county property appraiser is worth $139,085.
Regalado said he did not include a dollar amount because his home's foundation has suffered so much water damage from a leaky pipe that adjusters told him it would cost more to repair the structure than to tear it down and start over.
The ethics commission will discuss that case Tuesday. Regalado gave El Nuevo Herald a copy of the settlement, which shows he must pay two $500 fines and submit a revised financial disclosure to close the case.
The blogger who started it all crowed that the mayor is "poor no more":
Regalado for years attempted to portray himself as the poorest of Miami's politicians, claiming to have a net worth of as little as $5,000 that increased during his first two years as Mayor to $9,300. That was never the case, and it in many ways it's baffling why and how this fiction was never challenged by the Miami Herald and the rest of the local news media during all the years that he claimed to be the poorest politician in the land...
The evidence to challenge the Regalado's lie was readily available on the internet with less than 5 minutes of searching.
As for the campaign finances probe? Regalado says the panel, whose judgement is pending, found that funds were used appropriately but not all contributions were properly registered. He said he is likely to face ethics violations and civil penalties, and his daughter Raquel Regalado, now a Miami-Dade School Board member, told the Herald she would never again serve as his campaign treasurer.
UPDATE 1/24, 6 p.m.: According to a late-breaking follow-up in the Miami Herald, the Ethics Commission and Regalado reached the $1,000 fine in a deal in which the mayor would pay the fine but would only admit probable cause, not guilt.