Budget conference: Legislature removes funding earmarked for Miami Military Museum
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The museum received $1 million as recently as the 2020-21 budget. This year, it got none.

After failing to reach a consensus in committee negotiations last week, the Senate on Sunday removed a $150,000 funding request for the Miami Military Museum and Memorial in the 2022-23 state budget.

The move came after the House repeatedly refused last week to fund the relatively miniscule line item, which was for far less than the $650,000 originally requested in appropriations bills (LFIR 1263 and HB 2031) filed by Miami Republican Sen. Manny Diaz Jr. and Rep. Anthony Rodriguez in September.

The museum received at least $1 million in state funding set-asides through the 2020-21 budget, as well as $800,000 in local funding from Miami-Dade County and $45,000 in COVID-19 assistance.

This year, the museum will have to subsist on local government funds and donations.

As Jason Garcia of Seeking Rents first noted, the Miami Military Museum itself — or someone who works there — may have been a significant client of former state Sen. Frank Artiles, who secured millions for the center while in Tallahassee.

Artiles, a retired Marine, is now a major subject in a “ghost candidate” scandal that last year saw incumbent Democratic Sen. José Javier Rodríguez lose by just 34 votes to Republican Sen. Ileana Garcia.

According to a report by the Orlando Sentinel, records obtained by investigators in the case include communications from a person who identified him or herself as a retired Navy officer and professor. That person allegedly paid Artiles’ consulting firm, Atlas Consultants, $7,500 a month for “marketing” and “budget consulting.”

“I do not want unwanted scrutiny or media attention for any issue the museum has no involvement in,” the person wrote in an email to Circuit Judge Adriana Fajardo Orshan, asking for confidentiality.

The executive director of the Miami Military Museum is Anthony Atwood, a retired Navy chief warrant officer and an adjunct faculty member at Florida International University. He also runs its nonprofit fundraising arm, Friends of the Military Museum of South Florida at NAS Richmond.

Staff Reports


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