Ethics Commission postpones hearing for detained Miami commissioner pending criminal case
The Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics and Public Trust on Wednesday agreed to postpone a hearing for Miami City Commissioner Alex Diaz de la Portilla while his legal team awaits more details about a separate criminal corruption case that led to his arrest earlier this year.
“A number of elements have occurred that the committee may have been aware of,” said attorney Benedikt Kuehne, who represents him. Diaz de la Portilla told the ethics committee at a meeting Wednesday. “I am now trying to navigate the criminal case in which Alex Diaz de la Portilla has pleaded not guilty, and determine how to proceed with that case as well as this one.
in September Diaz de la Portilla was arrested and charged With one count of money laundering, three counts of unlawful compensation or reward for official conduct, one count of bribery, one count of criminal conspiracy, four counts of official misconduct, one count of contributing to an election campaign beyond legal limits and two counts of failure to comply. To report a gift.
The criminal charges were dropped about a year later by the Ethics Committee The charge was unanimously approved Diaz de la Portilla was charged with violating the county ethics code and abusing his official position after a friend who did not work for the city used a city car to bring alcohol to the commissioner, deliver dry cleaning and drive him to a property his family owned in southwest Miami-Dade.
The probable cause discovery led to a hearing before the Ethics Commission, which was scheduled for Jan. 31 to Feb. 2, 2024. Kuehne said the discovery was unlikely to be completed in time. “Largely because criminal charges were brought.” The committee’s vote Wednesday removed Diaz de la Portilla’s ethics committee hearing from the calendar. The parties agreed to a status report on this issue in January.
Commissioner who Gov. Ron DeSantis has been suspended In September after his arrest, he is also in the middle of a runoff race to retain his District 1 seat After placing the first Tuesday night In a field of five candidates, he failed to obtain more than 50% of the votes. The governor’s suspension remains in effect.
Kuehne noted that there is a status conference for the criminal case scheduled for next week that will provide “A better idea of what the course of action will be.” But he also agreed Wednesday to waive the requirement that an ethics commission hearing be held within 18 months of the probable cause discovery. If found guilty of a violation, Diaz de la Portilla could be fined up to $1,000 and issued a public reprimand.
Kuehne said the decision to postpone the hearing did not mean the criminal case took precedence, telling the Herald: “Both cases deserve respect.”
Miami Herald staff writer Joey Flechas contributed reporting.