Kevin Marino Cabrera dominates post-Primary fundraising for Miami-Dade Commission with $528K haul
Kevin Marino Cabrera dominates the money race.

Cabrera has raised nearly $1.75 million since he launched his Miami-Dade Commission campaign in late April.

Lobbyist Kevin Marino Cabrera raised nearly $528,000 over a 37-day period following the Aug. 23 Primary Election, when he clinched the top slot among four candidates vying for the District 6 seat on the Miami-Dade County Commission.

That’s more than five times what his runoff opponent, Coral Gables Commissioner Jorge Fors, raised in the same time span.

Cabrera also spent about $431,375, more than six times what Fors paid out.

As of Oct. 1, Cabrera had $278,000 remaining between his campaign account and political committee, Dade First PC.

Scores of individuals gave to Cabrera’s campaign between Aug. 24 and Sept. 30 with personal checks as low as $100. However, most of his gains came from corporate and political donors.

None showed up in greater numbers than real estate businesses. Numerous companies traceable to Miami “condo kingJorge Pérez gave $16,000 combined. The donations are noteworthy beyond their value; Pérez has been an outspoken critic of his former friend, Donald Trump, a former employer of Cabrera’s who endorsed his candidacy May 6.

Syd Ghermezian, whose Triple Five company is behind the long-in-development American Dream Mall project in Northwest Miami-Dade, gave Cabrera $10,000. So did South Florida development firm Crescent Heights, Miami Lakes-based Prestige Builders Group Management, North Miami Beach-based JC30 Consulting and Management, SE Property Group LLC in Doral, Coral Gables-based Coral Rock Development Group, several companies linked to Miami Lakes-based Centennial Management Corp., and a subsidiary of Hialeah-headquartered general and electrical contractor Horsepower Electric.

Associated Builders and Contractors, a trade association backing construction companies, chipped in $10,000 as well.

Some businesses tied to South Florida real estate mogul Thomas Korge donated $9,000.

Miami-based Tamiami Properties Inc., Adonel Concrete Corp., CREI Holdings LLC and Edgewater Management Services each gave $5,000, as did Fort Lauderdale-based construction company Moss & Associates, Miami Lakes-based TMC Naranja 66 Holdings LLC and several subsidiaries of Coral Gables-headquartered Century Home Builders Group.

Other $5,000 donations from real estate entities came from a handful or so of companies linked to Felipe Valls Jr., whose family owns the popular Versailles Restaurant in Little Havana; Kyle Clayton, a development manager at Fort Lauderdale-based ZOM Florida; and The Corradino Group, whose President, Joseph Corradino, is serving his second term as Mayor of Pinecrest.

Cabrera’s largest sum of money between Aug. 24 and Sept. 30 was $40,000 from A Bolder Florida, the political committee of Miami-Dade Commissioner-elect Anthony Rodriguez.

Rodriguez appears to really want to see Cabrera serve alongside him; between April 30 and Sept. 30, Rodriguez’s political committee alone has given Cabrera $240,000.

Other political committee contributions to Cabrera in the month and week after the Primary Election include $25,000 from Truth is the Daughter of Time, which lobbyist and former Miami City Commissioner Marc Sarnoff runs, and $5,000 apiece from New Leadership Network PC and the Florida Accountability Project.

Cabrera also accepted $10,000 donations from the parent company of the Miami Dolphins and Hard Rock Stadium, a health care branch of multifaceted Miami-based logistics company CDR Maguire and auto dealership mogul Alan Potamkin; $6,000 from charter education company School Development HC Finance; $5,000 from Doral-based entertainment company Engage Live, South Florida investor Rogelio Tovar and the Service Employees International Union; $4,000 from South Florida Vision; and $3,000 from a local chapter of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

An overwhelming amount of Cabrera’s spending between Aug. 24 and Sept. 30 covered advertising and related expenditures. His largest payout was $158,000 to Coral Gables-based firm Miranda Advocacy for direct mail, campaign outreach services and T-shirts.

Cabrera spent more than $30,000 on ad space with many media outlets, including Miami’s Community Newspapers (which endorsed him late last month), Actualidad Media Group, America TV Network, NBCUniversal Media, Spanish Broadcasting System, Univision Radio Mambí, Telemundo, River Cities Gazette and El Vocero News.

He spent more than $15,000 on services from Push Digital LLC, a South Carolina-based Republican campaign advertising firm whose clients include U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio and Lindsay Graham and Senate hopeful Herschel Walker.

Consulting companies got paid too. Cabrera spent about $51,000 on services from BYG Strategies Inc. and another $45,000 on “consulting and management” help from Dark Horse Strategies. Both firms are in Miami.

Other consulting payments included $21,500 to Berthier Group, $13,000 to Tridente Strategies and $3,000 to MTC Group Inc.

Cabrera also gave $27,500 to Citizens Alliance for Florida’s Economy, a Jensen Beach-based political committee chaired by GOP strategist Anthony Pedicini; and $1,000 to the campaign of Hialeah City Councilwoman Vivian Casals-Muñoz.

Fors, meanwhile, raised just under $100,000 between Aug. 24 and Sept. 30 through his campaign account and political committee, NextGen Florida Leadership. As of Oct. 1, he had $62,500 left to spend.

Much of Fors’ gains since the Primary Election came from fellow lawyers. That included $11,000 from members of his family law firm.

His single largest contribution was a $15,000 check from Rez Hibiscus, a development company tied to real estate lawyer Saulo Perez.

Coral Gables-based Garay Law gave $5,000. Pantin Gov, a self-described “boutique government relations firm” in Miami, donated $2,000. The Alvarez Law Firm in Coral Gables and Deutsch Blumberg & Caballero in Miami gave $1,000 each.

Dozens of South Florida lawyers also chipped in personal checks of between $150 and $1,000.

The health care and real estate sectors also showed up for Fors. Manuel Nielba, chief operating officer of health software solutions company JustWell Health, donated $10,000. Miami-based Hoover Family Medicine gave $2,000.

Luxon Construction, Petroleum Realty Corp., FXD Construction LLC, real estate agent Sabine Bittel and 1685 Jefferson LLC, a subsidiary of Terranova Corp., each donated $1,000.

Former Coral Gables Commissioner Wayne “Chip” Withers and his wife, Cynthia, both gave Fors $1,000 checks.

Fors also accepted $7,500 from Reform Government, a Tampa-based super PAC originally formed in support of former Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera.

Fors spent about $67,000 over the 37 days since voters last went to the polls. Of that, $45,000 went to Marin & Sons, a political communications firm in Miami, for advertising, text communications, campaign banners, “robo calls” and printing.

The remainder covered campaign staff pay and general upkeep, accounting and legal services.

The legal services included a defamation lawsuit Fors filed in late September against Cabrera, Pedicini, Miranda Advocacy principal Alex Miranda, political consultants David Milner and Thomas Piccolo, Tampa company SimWins and five unnamed individuals.

Fors claims in the suit that Cabrera, the consultants and others participated in a “civil conspiracy” to spread “false, defamatory statements” against him, including misleading campaign mailers sent to “thousands” of Miami-Dade voters for “malicious purposes.”

Some of the materials in question, including a now-offline website called, depict Fors as a criminal and former prisoner who was complicit in human trafficking.

All are lies, Fors says.

Cabrera and Fors emerged from a four-way Primary for District 6 as the top two vote-earners, with Cabrara taking 43% of the vote and Fors taking 26%. Miami-Dade law requires a County Commission candidate to receive more than half the votes cast during the Primary to win office, otherwise, a runoff is held in the General Election.

The Miami-Dade Commission is a technically nonpartisan body, as are its elections. Cabrera and Fors are both Republican, as is the woman they’re competing to replace, Rebeca Sosa. Sosa named Fors as her preferred successor.

Since he launched his campaign in late April, Cabrera has raised $1.75 million. Fors, meanwhile, raised nearly $726,000 since he filed to run in early May.

District 6 covers a north-central portion of Miami-Dade, including part or all of the cities of Coral Gables, Hialeah, Miami, Miami Springs, Virginia Gardens and West Miami. The district also contains Miami International Airport, one of the county’s top two economic engines, and a Miami golf course being redeveloped as a soccer stadium complex for the city’s Major League Soccer Team.

The General Election is Nov. 8. Early voting runs from Oct. 24 through Nov. 6.

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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