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HEY WILLIE GORT , SHOW US YOUR TAX RETURNS
NUMBER 52 - JUNE 22, 2018
Willie Gort likes to keep a low profile. He sits at the end of the Commission dias, and is quick to leave at the end of Commission meetings, if not before, especially if there's an item of controversy that he'd rather not have to vote on - like the time he just up and walked out during the June 26, 2016 Commission meeting over the RFP for the Rickenbacker Marina, essentially scuttling the meeting.
Willie's best known in some circles for all the trips he's taken over the years on so-called Trade Missions when his pal Tomas Regalado was Mayor.
The only thing is that never once, in all of those years, and after all of those trips did Willie ever produce a report to provide his fellow Commissioners or the public with information of just what he was up to on those trips, and how the residents of Miami benefited from Willie going hither and yon.
To understand what I'm talking about, consider that as shifty and devious as the Miami-Dade County Commission has been known to be, they at least go through the motions of producing Post Mission Reports on their travels around the world.
Not these scammers at Miami City Hall.
Willie has always been less than eager to let folks know what he was doing in places like Turkey and Poland, especially after I started searching the internet looking for photos and writing stories of Regalado's "wife" passing out Keys to the City to business people in Spain while she was producing segments for AmericaTV's on the wonders of Spain, and after Regalado had left office.:
Every once in a while though, Willie couldn't avoid being in a photograph, like the one earlier this year in Paraguay where Willie and newly elected Mayor Francis Suarez were taking part in a ribbon cutting ceremony at the offices of a law firm. Part of the story that accompanied the photo stated:
"The inauguration was attended by businessmen, personalities
and local and international authorities such as the mayor and
vice mayor of the city of Miami, Francis Suarez and Willi Gort
respectively; also the directors of Latin America Invest, M & B
Law Firm and VMC Private Bankers.
When Regalado was mayor, he and Gort spent so much time in, and around Merita, Mexico that I fully expected to see Willie show up at a Commission meeting wearing a sombrero, and accompanied by a Mariachi band.
WILLIE AND RICHARD KUPER
There have always been questions about Willie and his business dealings, especially his connections to Richard Kuper.
Kuper was his Chief of Staff during Willie's first go-around as a Commissioner, and after he left Willie's employment he became the Executive Director of the Miami-Dade League Of Cities.
Although that was supposedly a full-time job that paid $112,000 plus benefits the last time I checked, Kuper also found time to engage in some interesting side-hustles like being the assistant bond counsel on various bond offering issue by public agencies, like the $60 million offering for the SEOPW CRA, he also moonlighted as a lobbyist for clients such as the the Christophs in their RFP battle to take over the Rickenbacker Marina lease, and the Flagstone Group.
While Kuper was lobbying in 2015, 2016 and 2017, Willie became a board member of the Miami-Dade League of Cities, where he continues to serve today.
An internet search of Gort and Austin Atlantic Capital, Inc., turned up this description of Gort's role wth the firm.
A few days ago, I sent Gort an email asking him why he had not listed Austin Atlantic Capital, Inc., on his FORM 1. His Chief of Staff Frank Castaneda, responded:
I could understand that maybe he parked his registration for part of a year after he decided that maybe he didn't want to be involved in bond sales any more, although that is stretching it, but to supposedly park your license for 3 years and then claim you didn't make a penny in income from doing that, raises questions, if not suspicion, especially since this is the same Willie Gort who took $18,000 in unreported, in-kind donations from a billboard company during his reelection campaign in 2013, and whose accountant was accused by one of his employees of cooking Willie's campaign account to hide donations in an investigation conducted by the FDLW that was short-stopped when the Special Agent sought permission to impound Willie office computer. (Ibid)
After several unsuccessful exchanges with Willie's Chief of Staff, Frank Castaneda over Willie's refusal to respond to my questions - Castaneda told me to go and ask the company - I figured that there was only one way to determine if Willie had, or had not made money from the years he was registered as a broker with Austin Atlantic Capital, Inc., and that was for him to turn over his tax returns.
Given all the other questionable shit that Willie's been involved with over the years, turning over his tax returns is the only way we can know whether the rumors and accusations that Willie's been on the take are unmitigated lies, or whether he is the crooked politician that some people claim he is.
What about it Willie? Where's those tax returns?
2009 - 2012 FORM 1
2009 - 2012 FORM 1
Even though the date on this form says 2012, it was actually the Form 1 he submitted for 2013.
All the while that Kuper was lobbying Willie and his fellow Commissioners, and while Willie sat on the SEOPW CRA Board and on the board of the Miami-Dade League of Cities, Kuper's wife worked for Willie in his Commission office at City Hall.
When Kuper responded to the question on the City's Lobbyist registration Form whether he had any business or financial relationship with a City Commissioner he responded: by writing:
"None, my wife is a city employee and works for Commissioner Gort's
So Willie, as a City Commissioner with oversight and fiduciary responsibilities for voting on projects who his pal Kuper was being paid to lobby for, and who served as the "assistant bond counsel" for a $60 million bond issue that again, Willie has oversight responsibility for as a board member of the SEOPW CRA, and who starting in 2016, also served on the board of the Miami-Dade League of Cities, where he again had direct oversight responsibilities over it's Executive Director, who just happened to be his pal Kuper.
And to put the cherry on top of the sundae, Willie was Kuper's wife's boss.
In a lot of American cities the discovery of these intertwining connections would be enough to warrant a front page story in the local newspaper followed by an ethics investigation. In Miami, it's just another example of the Family and Friends Plan.
WILLIE AND HIS STOCK BROKER'S LICENSE
One of the requirement of being an elected official in Florida is that you have to file an annual financial report. It's called a FORM 1.
For the years 2009, 2010 and 2011, Willie's Financial Reports showed that he listed MFR Securities as a secondary source of income.Willie has had a securities license for a lot of years, and worked for numerous New York companies.
In 2012, the record show that he left MFR Securities and BrokerCheck shows he was listed as a broker with Austin Atlantic Capital, Inc.
PHOTO OF THE DAY - "THIS IS NOT ABOUT POLITICS," SAID MIAMI MAYOR FRANCIS SUAREZ AFTER FLYING TO TEXAS TO POSE AT THE MEXICAN BORDER TO PROTEST THE CHILDREN TAKEN FROM THEIR PARENTS
Of course it was politics! If Suarez really wanted to show his concern, he could have had his police chauffer drive him down to Homestead where he could have shown his solidarity for the kids in that facility, instead of pissing away money on airfare and expenses for him and his bodyguard/chauffer to fly to Texas.
What we are seeing here is the creation of a media whore, who we can expect to jump on planes at every single opportunity that presents itself for him to pose or pander as a "national leader."
In the meantime, the one place he doesn't want to spend very much time is inside the City Commission Chambers on Commission day. Every time he does that he looks like a Page Boy who forgot what errand he was on.