Rickey Mitchell leads June fundraising race for Miami-Dade Sheriff with $200K self-donation
Image via Rickey Mitchell.

Rickey Mitchell 1
His campaign is overwhelmingly self-funded.

Democratic retired Miami-Dade Police officer Rickey Mitchell led four other candidates vying to be the county’s first elected Sheriff in decades last month — thanks to a massive cash infusion from his own bank account.

Mitchell, a lifelong Miamian who for 36 years has owned and operated a funeral home in the city, gave $200,000 to his campaign.

He also received a $200 check from a retiree residing in Hialeah, his only other gain in June.

Mitchell spent nearly $4,000, half of which went to a campaign booth at a Juneteenth festival in Miami and various campaign materials. The rest covered general upkeep, including accounting and website costs.

Mitchell’s platform includes prioritizing community policing, investing in ongoing education and training for law enforcement personnel and residents, and cracking down on discrimination and stereotyping of the force and the communities it serves.

He vows to maintain an open-door policy if elected and to “swiftly and conclusively address corruption, excessive force, and brutality, ensuring that any officers tarnishing the badge and causing public distrust are handled appropriately.”

His campaign is overwhelmingly self-funded. Of the $282,000 his campaign reported receiving since it launched on April 10, just $7,500 came from outside sources.

As of June 30, he had $261,000 remaining.

Coming in at a distant second place in fundraising last month was Republican Mario Knapp, a 27-year Miami-Dade Police veteran who served as the post-incident commander in the aftermath of the Surfside condo collapse.

Knapp, who filed to run June 1, amassed $61,000 between his campaign account and political committee, For a Safer Miami-Dade. Most of the money came through personal checks.

Around 80 people, many of them law enforcement officers, gave to Knapp’s campaign. The smallest contribution he accepted was $20, though most checks came in at three figures.

He also gave himself $20,000.

His largest personal donation was a $3,000 check from Lynn Brooks, a Doral-based entertainment consultant. David Norris, CEO of Orange County-based debt consolidation company Americor, gave $2,500.

Miami Lakes law firm The Founders Law donated $5,000. Modern Stones, a construction company specializing in marble, granite and shell stone services, gave $3,000.

Knapp spent about $1,2000 in June, all of it on campaign processing fees.

He held $61,500 by month’s end.

Freddy Ramirez, who has served as Miami-Dade’s appointed Police Director since 2020, collected $56,000 in June through a blend of high-profile individual donors, corporate contributions and grassroots gains.

Some 60 people gave to his campaign or the Miami-Dade Safe & Secure political committee. His smallest personal check was for $5.

Two people gave 5,000 times that sum: Ivan Canas, CEO of Miami-headquartered health care company Nova Medical Services, and Chris White, the CEO of CBCO, a for-profit company registered in Delaware, New York, North Carolina, Ohio and Texas.

Fred Wright of WRT World Enterprises, a Medley shipping, logistics and supply chain business, gave $1,500. Wright also gave $2,500 last month to Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, who currently serves as the county’s de facto Sheriff and, until January 2025, holds the power to appoint, hire and fire the Police Director.

Other noteworthy individual contributions included $1,000 from former U.S. Rep. Donna Shalala, $1,000 from Russell Benford, Vice President of Miami-headquartered cruise giant Royal Caribbean Group, and Monroe County Sheriff Richard Ramsay, one of several law enforcement professionals to give to Ramirez, a registered Democrat.

Ramirez also received $10,000 from Miami electrical contractor company Liberty Mission Critical Services, $5,000 apiece from law firm Weiss Serota Helfman Cole & Bierman and Florida Value Partners, a real estate investment firm, and $1,000 from a campaign-donation arm of telecom mammoth Motorola.

He held $124,000 by the end of June after spending $30,000, most of it on consulting and campaign staff costs.

Nearly $11,000 went to ubiquitous Florida Democratic consultant Christian Ulvert’s firm, EDGE Communications, for political consulting and reimbursements for a campaign kickoff event.

Ramirez also paid $6,500 for fundraising consulting from Miami Shores consultant Gregory Goddard, $6,300 to Plantation-based consultant Michael Worley for a retainer fee, digital ad consulting, texting service and “campaign collateral production,” and $2,000 to St. Petersburg communications consultant Claire VanSusteren.

Republican Miami Police officer Ruamen de la Rua, whose November filing for the race makes him its longest-running candidate, collected $3,500 in June, including a $2,000 self-donation.

Six people, half of whom are listed on his donation ledger as either police or public safety officers, also gave between $50 and $1,000 each.

He spent nearly as much as he raised last month. Most went to advertising and campaign promotion, including $1,300 on car-wrapping services.

The fifth candidate in the race, Jaspen Bishop of Homestead, filed to run on June 1, but he reported no fundraising or spending in his first campaign finance report.

Miami-Dade is the only county in Florida with no 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 Aug. 20, followed by the General Election on Nov. 5.

Candidates faced a Monday deadline to report all campaign finance activity through June 30.

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

  • Earl Pitts "The Big Voice On The Right" American

    July 13, 2023 at 8:50 pm

    Good evening Florida,
    Miami/Dade has in effect operated like it is really not a part of the USA forever. Even State of Florida agencies treat Miami/Dade totally different with offices dedicated just to Miami/Dade. That being said there are legitmitate reasons to govern Miami/Dade differently at State Government level.
    Be carefull conservatives with thinking because Miami/Dade voted for Desantis therefor now all of Miami/Dade is great and wonderful.
    Oh HeII to the No:
    Miami/Dade is not your “The Villages South” use the same extreem caution whenever doing business or getting involved with politicians in Miami/Dade. It is still like it always was they just did not like Nikki Fried or Charly Crist PERIOD end of story.
    Nothing else has changed in regards to Miami/Dade. NOTHING.
    Thank you Florida,
    Earl Pitts “Florida Political Expert” American

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