Fundraising blitz puts Freddy Ramirez atop 5-way race for Miami-Dade Sheriff
Image via Facebook.

Freddy Ramirez Miami-Dade Police
His closest cash competitor is a former Miami-Dade cop and funeral director named Rickey Mitchell.

Miami-Dade Police Director Freddy Ramirez amassed more than $100,000 toward his bid to become the county’s first elected Sheriff in decades last month, when two additional candidates for the job emerged.

He now faces one fellow Democrat and three Republicans. So far, only one has done any substantial fundraising.

Ramirez, who was previously registered as both a Republican and an Independent, collected more than 145 personal checks in May through his campaign account and political committee, Miami-Dade Safe & Secure.

Noteworthy individual donations included $3,500 from former Miami City Manager Joe Arriola, $1,500 from Miami Heat Director of Security Carlos Rosario, $1,000 from Miami Democratic Sen. Jason Pizzo, $1,000 from auto dealership magnate Ed Williamson II, $500 from former Miami-Dade Deputy Mayor Maurice Kemp and $250 from former Miami-Dade Transportation Director Alice Bravo, who just launched an eponymous infrastructure consulting firm after two years with frequent county contractor WSP USA.

Ramirez’s largest single donation was a $15,000 infusion from New Leadership for Florida, a PC controlled by Democratic consultant Christian Ulvert, who is running Ramirez’s campaign.

Ramirez’s second-biggest gain came through a $10,000 check from the 501(c)(3) nonprofit Community-Police Relations Foundation, formerly known as the Greater Miami-Miami Beach Police Foundation & New York’s Elite Police Foundation.

Legal, lobbying and government consulting businesses gave too. Among them: Coral Gables-based Mata Consulting, which kicked in $5,000; Miami-based LSN Partners, which gave $2,000; and The Southern Group, which donated $1,000.

Of note, Tridente Strategies, a primarily Republican-focused Coral Gables consulting firm backing Miami Mayor Francis Suarez’s run at the White House, also gave Ramirez $1,000.

Other donations included $5,000 from subsidiaries of real estate developer Terra and $2,500 from a limited liability company owned by South Florida-based Fox Medical Centers.

Ramirez spent just over $2,000 last month, all of it on donation-processing fees. As of May 31, he held about $98,000.

His closest competitor, funeral director and former Miami-Dade Police officer Rickey Mitchell, raised about $5,600 in May and outspent that sum threefold. He held $64,000 at the end of the month, thanks to healthier rounds of fundraising since March.

Eight people and four businesses — three of which are funeral-related — contributed to Mitchell’s campaign through checks of between $100 and $1,000.

Mitchell, who retired from the county police force in 2006 after 25 years on the job, spent nearly $18,000 in May. Of that, $7,500 went to Miami-based Diaz Consulting Group and another $3,500 went to consultant Makeda McLune for fundraising and campaign work.

He paid more than $1,900 to several campaign workers, according to his reports with the county, which show he also spent $1,800 on printing. The rest went to web hosting, voting documents, a compliance payment to a Hollywood-based accounting firm and a nearly $200 self-reimbursement for a photo shoot.

Republican Ruamen de la Rúa, who has worked for the Miami Police Department and as a Deputy Sheriff in Marion County, raised just $325 in May through five personal checks of between $25 and $100.

Three of those contributions came from police officers, one came from a security professional and the last was from a teacher.

His campaign also spent nearly $1,600, more than half of which on “promotional items” from Monsters Ink, a Miami-based printing and embroidery business.

Other expenditures included $350 on accounting services and $248 on “event supplies” from Walmart. The rest covered bank, postage and donation-processing fees.

De la Rúa has been in the race for Miami-Dade Sheriff the longest, having filed to run in November.

Mario Knapp, a Republican with 27 years of experience on the Miami-Dade Police force, including service as the post-incident commander following the Surfside condo collapse in 2021, filed to run on June 1.

But his PC, For A Safer Miami-Dade, reported a pair of $1,000 donations in May: one from Miami-based Synergy Art & Printing Studio, the other from Anthony DeNito, owner of Miami Cruise Yacht Charters.

The PC is led by William Stafford Jones, a former Chair of the Alachua County Republican Party who in 2020 worked with a Gainesville firm called Data Targeting on the campaign of Sen. Jason Brodeur, one of several politicians later caught up in a “ghost candidate” scheme that has since led to criminal charges.

Knapp’s campaign account and PC have yet to report any spending.

Another Republican candidate, Jaspen Bishop, filed to run June 1 as well and has not yet reported any campaign finance activities.

Miami-Dade is the only county in Florida that does not have an elected Sheriff. County voters eliminated their Sheriff more than half a century ago after a 1966 grand jury report revealed rampant racketeering and bribery within the department.

The county’s unique home rule powers insulated it from legislative preemption on the matter for decades until 2018, when 58% of Miami-Dade voters joined a statewide supermajority in approving a constitutional amendment to require every Sheriff, Tax Collector, Property Appraiser, Clerk of Courts and Supervisor of Elections to be chosen by their electorates by 2025.

The 2024 Primary Election is on Aug. 20, followed by the General Election Nov. 5.

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Editor’s note: This report was corrected to state Ruamen de la Rua works for the Miami Police Department, not the Miami-Dade County Police Department.

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.


One comment

  • Lawrence Percival

    July 1, 2023 at 3:54 pm

    I am curious why Joe Martinez was not included as potential candidates? I know of his removal by Gov. DeSantis, however his trial has been reset for August. Do you see any strong possibility for Mr. Martinez if he is found not guilty? Thanks for addressing my comment.

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