Danielle Cohen Higgins hits cycle-high spending in July for Miami-Dade Commission defense

Danielle Cohen Higgins
She also holds a jaw-dropping fundraising lead, with more than 100 times what her two opponents have combined.

In just three weeks last month, lawyer Danielle Cohen Higgins spent more than $127,000 to defend her seat on the Miami-Dade County Commission — a cycle-high sum that went mostly to a Plantation consulting firm for advertising.

Cohen Higgins also raised nearly $27,000 through her campaign account and political committee, Fight for Our Future. The two accounts held a combined $527,000 by July 22 despite her healthy campaign activity.

Consultant Michael Worley’s MDW Communications received the lion’s share of her payouts, $81,000, for direct mail consulting, digital advertising and “email program” and campaign collateral. Another $15,000 went to Miami-based Win Canvass LLC for outreach and consulting services.

She also paid $12,000 to BYG Strategies, a Miami political consulting company led by Bryan Goldmeier, and $5,000 to Edge Communications principal Christian Ulvert, a Democratic consultant who chairs Cohen Higgins’ political committee.

Other spending included a $5,800 ad buy from Miami’s Community Newspapers, which endorsed her July 11, and a $640 payment to progressive digital platform NGP Van for “voter access.”

So far, Cohen Higgins’ July fundraising drew disproportionately from the real estate sector. She received several donations totaling $3,000 from the Mas Group and AJP Ventures, which are collaborating to develop a massive auto club project in Miami Gardens.

She also took $2,000 from Hialeah Gardens-based AUM Construction and $1,000 apiece from the lobbying arm of the Miami Association of Realtors and Miami real estate development firm Atlantic Pacific.

Her two largest gains were $5,000 checks from ambulance company executive Raul Rodriguez, CEO of National Health Transport; and TH Logistics Fund I, a Chicago-headquartered industrial real estate company that private equity firm Timber Hill Group and Champion Realty Advisors launched in September.

Eight people gave to her campaign between July 1 and July 22. One person donated $10. Most personal checks were for $1,000. Coral Gables-based consultant and lobbyist Al Maloof gave her $500.

She also received $1,000 from the Miccosukee Tribe, which operates a large casino and resort abutting the Everglades near the western edge of the county’s urban development boundary.

Cohen Higgins faces two opponents in the technically nonpartisan race for the Miami-Dade Commission seat representing District 8: health care professional Karen Baez-Wallis and community activist Alicia Arellano.

Baez-Wallis, who recently quit her job as director of the emergency room at Jackson South Medical Center for a run at the County Commission, spent more than $24,000 in the first three weeks of July, her second month of campaigning.

She also raised about $14,000 thanks to a $5,000 self-loan, $1,000 from Fort Lauderdale-based Charter Airlines, $750 from South Florida podiatry practice Garnet & Carbonell and Hialeah-based education management firm DLS Management Inc.

Twenty-eight people donated to her campaign, with most checks ranging from $100 to $250. One person gave her $1,000.

Of note, Baez-Wallis accepted a $100 contribution from Javier Ortiz, a captain with the Miami Police Department who has been repeatedly suspended due to allegations of violence and racism. Last month, a disciplinary review panel recommended his termination.

More than 98% of what Baez-Wallis spent went to Miami-based Diaz Consulting Group for “consulting & communications.” Another $310 went to Best Choice Silk Screen, a local printing business, for campaign T-shirts and stickers.

Arellano, a neighborhood activist, was among seven candidates to vie for the District 8 seat then-Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava vacated in 2020 for a successful mayoral run.

Since Cohen Higgins won the appointment, Arellano has added just $100 to her campaign account. That addition came in June, the same month she spent $360 on a qualifying fee.

As of July 22, she had just $67 left.

District 8 covers much of Miami-Dade County’s southern portion, including the municipalities of Palmetto Bay, Cutler Bay, Homestead and the unincorporated neighborhoods of Redlands, Falls, Princeton, Naranja, Leisure City and parts of West Kendall.

If no candidate secures more than 50% of the vote in the Aug. 23 Primary Election, the two candidates with the most votes will compete in a runoff Nov. 8.

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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