Philippe Bien-Aime taps real estate bucks again to cross $500K in Miami-Dade Commission bid
Philippe Bien-Aime is the man with a plan. Image via Twitter.

Philippe Bien-Aime
His fundraising matches that of his five opponents combined.

North Miami Mayor Philippe Bien-Aime added $148,000 last month to his commanding lead in the race to be the next Miami-Dade County Commissioner representing District 2. As was the case in months prior, the majority of his gains came from the real estate industry.

Bien-Aime has raised more than $525,000 since he filed in December 2020 to run for the seat Commissioner Jean Monestime must vacate in November due to term limits. That’s just $3,000 shy of what his five competitors — educator Wallace Aristide, nonprofit executive Marleine Bastien, teacher turned firefighter William Clark, former North Miami Mayor Josaphat “Joe” Celestin and Monique Nicole Barley-Mayo — have raised combined.

As of April 30, he still held about $431,000 between his campaign account and political committee, Progressive Advocates for Change, which took in the preponderance of his donations last month.

More than 30 people donated to Bien-Aime in April, with checks ranging from $25 to $15,000.

Among his top donors was Jarrod Markofsky, vice president of Fort Lauderdale-headquartered Skymark Real Estate Investors. Another $15,000 came from Miami-based Integra Solutions.

Plantation-based development firm CD Capital Partners LLC donated $10,000, as did Jay Philip Parker, CEO of luxury real estate firm Douglas Elliman.

Stanley Tate Builders, a construction company located in Miami, gave $7,000. So did two companies that shared an Aventura address on Bien-Aime’s donations ledger — “Downtown Realty Investments LLC” and “Bird Bowl Ocean,” — for which the Florida Division of Corporations has no record.

Outside the real estate sector, Bien Aime received $10,000 apiece from Coral Gables-based physician and rehab specialist Carolina Ramirez, commercial litigator Benjamin Brodsky, and Kevin Adler, the founder and CEO of Miracle Messages, a nonprofit that assists homeless people.

Kaplan Loebl Attorneys At Law, an Aventura-based divorce law firm, and Boca Raton-based TransAmerican Title & Settlement Services gave the same.

Bien-Aime spent more than $27,000 in April. More than half that, $16,000, went to Plantation-based Democratic consulting firm MDW Communications.

He paid $5,000 to Zafe Pa Nou, a Haitian-language radio show, for “communications.” Citing the same reason, he paid $1,000 apiece to Jean Sony Zulerion, the founder of Haitian TV and radio station Bpx TV Reseau, and Bernard Gotchen, whom Gazette Haiti said is a journalist.

The remainder of Bien-Aime’s spending, roughly $3,300, covered general upkeep costs, including accounting and fee processing.

Aristide, a former principal at Miami Northwestern Senior High School, raised $14,000 in April, all of it through his political committee, Miami District 2 United. That brought his total collections since filing to run in December 2020 to about $260,000.

Of that, he has about $201,000 remaining.

Like Bien-Aime, most of Aristide’s haul in April — $11,000 — came from real estate businesses. His largest contribution, $5,000, came from a pair of companies belonging to lawyer, political fundraiser and real estate developer Chris Korge, who is also the elected finance chair of the Democratic National Committee.

Aristide spent about $1,500. Nearly all of that covered a donation to Restart Community Services, a nonprofit that benefits homeless individuals and families.

Pulling up third in April gains, as well as in overall fundraising, was Bastien, a licensed clinical social worker who runs the Family Action Network Movement in Miami, a low-income community advocacy organization.

Since filing to run in September 2019, Bastien has amassed about $221,000. She had more than $180,000 of that left by the end of April.

Last month, her campaign reported taking in $11,500. Roughly half that came through individual donations.

Twenty-five people gave Bastien checks of between $50 and $1,000 in April.

Bastien also gained $5,000 from IMG Equity Group, a commercial real estate firm that gave to her campaign through five subsidiaries.

St. Fort’s Funeral Home and Cremation on North Miami Beach gave $500. U.S. Loan Corporation, a Miami-based for-profit business, gave $300.

Of the $2,000 Bastien spent, half went to Sinal Consulting Group in Miami. The remainder covered office rent, a cell phone payment and a headphone purchase.

Clark, who worked as a teacher in Miami-Dade Public Schools before becoming a county firefighter, added more than $6,000 to his campaign coffers in April. While he may not have raised as much as the race’s three fundraising front-runners, he worked hard for what he got.

More than 90 people gave to Clark last month. Checks ranged from $3 to $500. Most were for less than $50.

He’s raised $46,000 since filing to run in March 2020. Of that, he has $25,000 remaining.

Clark didn’t entirely eschew corporate and organizational contributions. He accepted $1,000 apiece from Development Services Solutions, a Miami-based construction consulting business, and a subsidiary of nonprofit Jubilee Community Development Corporation, a public charity that provides affordable housing to low-income families in Miami-Dade.

He spent $3,600, almost all of it on campaigning, including flyers, banners, fundraiser food, postage, gas, an event tent and website fees.

Celestin filed to run for District 2 in November 2019. Since then, he’s only added funds to his campaign account in four months total. April was not one of those months.

He did, however, spend $3,400, bringing his campaign balance down to $17,000. All the money was for office rent.

Barley-Mayo again raised nothing. She also spent nothing, balancing her campaign account out neatly at zero funds raised and spent since she filed for the race last July.

The county elections website still lists her as active.

District 2 spans portions of Miami, North Miami, North Miami Beach, Opa-locka, Hialeah and the unincorporated neighborhoods of Liberty City, North Dade Central and Biscayne Gardens.

Candidates faced a May 10 deadline to report all campaign finance activities through the end of April.

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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