Sophia Lacayo enters Miami-Dade Commission race with mostly self-funded $187K haul
Sophia Lacayo kicks off her campaign with a major self-funding boost. Image via Facebook.

Sophia Lacayo
She’s challenging Doral Mayor Juan Carlos Bermudez in a race to succeed term-limited Commissioner Jose “Pepe” Diaz.

After months as the lone candidate in the Miami-Dade County Commission District 12 race, Doral Mayor Juan Carlos Bermudez has an opponent: former Sweetwater Commissioner Sophia Lacayo, who entered the contest last month adding more than $187,000.

Most of that money came from Lacayo’s own bank account or companies to which she is linked. In addition to loaning herself $169,000, Lacayo received a $1,000 donation from her campaign treasurer, Thanya Lacayo, who works at Doral-based tax services company Solasi. The company is registered under Lacayo Trade Group Inc., which lists Sophia Lacayo as its CEO.

Lacayo’s campaign accepted $1,000 donations from eight more businesses with her name attached to them. In total, 12 people donated to Lacayo’s bid through Feb. 28, with some giving as little as $25.

An accountant, entrepreneur and Spanish talk radio host, Lacayo defeated incumbent Isolina Maroño in May 2019 to take a seat on the Sweetwater Commission. Less than a year and a half later, Lacayo resigned and pleaded guilty to perjury after falsely saying she lived in the city during her election campaign.

As punishment for the first-degree misdemeanor, Lacayo received one year of probation. She also agreed to abstain from running for office during that period, take an ethics course and pay $3,750 in investigation costs, the Miami Herald reported at the time.

As flagged first by Political Cortadito, Lacayo’s campaign filings with Miami-Dade last month list her home as a 6,000-square-foot Doral house within District 12 limits. The home last sold for $2.85 million in September 2021 to Lacayo Real Estate Group, which records from the Florida Division of Corporations show as forming under Lacayo’s management on Aug. 12, 2021.

Lacayo’s Twitter page says she is focused “on my citizens, local development, equality for all and (freedom) to our oppressed countries.” The page includes a link to a campaign website, which appears to have been previously used for her Sweetwater Commission bid. A second website supporting her Sweetwater campaign is also still operating.

Lacayo had yet to spend anything as of Feb. 28.

She faces Bermudez, who served as Doral’s founding Mayor for the city’s first decade and won re-election to the position in 2016.

Since filing to run for the Miami-Dade County Commission seat in July 2021, he’s amassed more than $523,000 between his campaign account and political committee. That includes an $83,000 haul last month, which depended heavily on three sectors: real estate and development, transportation and freight, and the legal, lobbying and government relations sector.

Bermudez’s two largest donations were for $10,000 apiece. One came from Rudy Touzet, founder and CEO of commercial real estate firm Banyan Street Capital. The other is listed as coming from Amelia Hialeah, a mixed-use development by Prestige Builders Group.

Another $5,000 came from JC30 Consulting & Management, a construction management company whose listed address in a November donation to Florida political committee Common Voices belongs to Humberto Ortiz. Oritz is president of Hialeah-based general contracting firm AUM Construction.

He accepted five $1,000 donations from companies tied to Miami-based homebuilder Luis Boschetti.

Contributions for the same amount came from construction company Lemartec Corp. and Ben Gilbert of multinational construction, engineering and energy company MasTec, whose owners are partnering with soccer star David Beckham to build a massive stadium and complex on a Miami greenspace by Miami International Airport.

From the legal and lobbying sector, Bermudez took a $5,000 check from Florida Partners, which operates under the guidance of Brian May, who worked as former Miami-Dade Mayor Alex Penelas’ campaign manager and Chief of Staff.

Florida Partners gave the same amount to former Miami Beach Commissioner Micky Steinberg’s Miami-Dade Commission campaign in November.

Coral Gables-based public affairs firm The Strategic Edge Inc., which the Florida Division of Corporations lists under May’s name, gave $2,500.

Bermudez received $1,000 from government affairs counselor Leslie Pantin and another $1,000 from Pantin Gov LLC. He also got $1,000 from lobbying firm Rubin Turnbull & Associates and A Stronger Florida, which Rubin Turnbull Director of Operations Celest Camm runs.

Timothy Riera Gomez of government relations firm Prime Strategies gave $1,000. So did former Sen. Oscar Braynon II of The Southern Group.

Four companies linked to Miami commercial truck dealership TruckMax donated $1,000 each.

Other $1,000 checks came from Dolphin Towing and Recovery Inc., American Towing Services, Alpine Towing, Vice Towing, Excalibur Towing CEO Ramon Crego and Raul Rodriguez, CEO of ambulance company National Health Transport.

Road freight company MVC Transportation gave $200. Two companies that share its address gave $100 apiece.

Billionaire Miami Dolphins and Hard Rock Stadium owner Stephen Ross gave Bermudez $5,000 through a limited liability company called South Florida Stadium.

Miami Yacht Experience, a Doral-headquartered yacht-rental company owned by Dieuveny Jean Louis, the founder and CEO of premium liquor company Toast Distillers, chipped in $1,000.

Bermudez spent about $800 last month. Most of it went to RHF Law Firm in Coral Gables for “legal services.”

District 12 covers parts of west Miami-Dade, including Doral and the municipalities of Hialeah, Hialeah Gardens, Medley, Sweetwater, Virginia Gardens and a large portion of the county’s unincorporated area.

Bermudez and Lacayo are running to succeed Commissioner Jose “Pepe” Diaz, who must leave office in November due to term limits voters approved in 2012. He is planning a run to again become Mayor of Sweetwater, his longtime home.

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.


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