Joe Sanchez tops Miami-Dade Sheriff race fundraising in Q4 with $203K haul
Image via Joe Sanchez.

Joe Sanchez Pic alone
He collected more than twice what his closest competitor raised last quarter despite not officially entering the race until this month.

Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Joe Sanchez didn’t officially enter the race for Miami-Dade County Sheriff until Jan. 8, but he’d already built up a formidable war chest by then through a political committee backing his candidacy.

That political committee, Law and Order PC, raked in $203,000 through 121 donations to place Sanchez, one of a baker’s dozen Republicans in the race, at the top of a 15-candidate field in Q4 fundraising.

It also spent $2,400, nearly all of it on donation-processing fees.

More than 50 people gave to Sanchez’ s political committee last quarter, most for $1,000 or more.

“I am humbled by the overwhelming support we have received over the last few months from the community,” Sanchez said in a statement. “We are grateful to all the residents of Miami-Dade County who are putting law and order first in the upcoming Sheriff’s election, and we are looking forward to talking and engaging with them as we share our vision for the new Sheriff’s Office.”

Sanchez received $10,000 checks from real estate investor Moshe Popack and Miami attorney Richard Cole. Auto magnate Mario Murgado gave $5,000, as did sports management executive Jeff Schwartz and a handful of others.

Real estate company Sunshine Dade Investments gave $10,000. So did Coral Gables-based public affairs firm Capital City Consulting.

Donations from several political committees came in as well, including $5,000 from Miamians for Sensible Government, which land use and government relations lawyer Felix Lasarte runs; $2,500 from Coral Gables Mayor Vince Lago’s political committee, Coral Gables First; and $2,000 Helping You, the political committee of former Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez Cantera.

Miami-Dade County Police Major Mario Knapp collected $70,000 last quarter toward his bid for Sheriff, the second-most among all candidates.

He also spent more than $12,000, most of it on consulting and bank fees, to have $156,000 left on New Year’s Day between his campaign account and political committee, For a Safer Miami-Dade.

Knapp received a blend of personal and business checks. Many of the people who gave to him reported having law enforcement backgrounds.

His biggest single gain was a $10,000 check from Michael Fux, a Cuban American centimillionaire who made his fortune selling foam sleep products. Knapp’s donations ledger lists Fux as a “developer.”

Knapp also received $5,000 apiece from commercial diving company Subsea Global Solutions, JCIA Family Therapy and Latino Alliance¸ PC run by Tallahassee-based consultant Alex Alvardo.

North Miami Beach-based Bryant Security Co. gave Knapp $4,000.

Miami-Dade Police Major Jose Aragu raised nearly as much as Knapp in the fourth quarter, pulling in $69,000 between his campaign account and political committee, Law & Order PAC.

Of that sum, $50,000 came from a Miami electrical contracting company called Liberty Mission Critical Services.

He also received 73 personal checks and donations from 11 businesses.

Aragu, a Republican, spent about $5,000. Most covered accounting and merchant fees.

Republican Miami-Dade Assistant Police Director Rosie Cordero-Stutz, who filed to run Oct. 16, placed fourth in Q4 fundraising with roughly $60,000 hauled in between her campaign account and political committee, Citizens for a Safer Community.

More than 80 people donated to her campaign, many of them in police or police-adjacent professions.

Her most generous contribution was a $11,000 check from Daniel Berkowitz, the CEO and managing partner of Atlas Development Corp.  Nick Hammerschlag, a Miami-based tech investor, gave $5,000.

Cordero-Stutz’s largest business contribution was a $10,000 check from Global Media MKT.

She spent $2,000, nearly all of it on credit card-processing fees.

Raising fifth-most with $55,000 collected between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31, Republican retired Miami-Dade Police officer Ernie Rodriguez leaned equally on people and companies in a variety of business sectors.

Half the checks he took through his campaign account were for $1,000, the maximum non-PC donation allowable to candidates seeking countywide office.

Of the $3,000 he spent in Q4, half went to Miami-based firm Dark Horse Strategies for “digital media consulting.” The rest covered accounting and compliance costs, credit card and bank fees, and a $600 registration fee for a charity event hosted by The Love Fund, a nonprofit that aids fallen officers and their families.

As of Jan. 1, Rodriguez had about $57,000 left.

Ten other candidates are in the race. They include:

— Democratic Miami-Dade Police Major John Barrow. He raised $43,000 in Q4, spent close to $24,000 and had $22,000 remaining at the end of the quarter.

— Republican lawyer and former police officer Ignacio “Iggy” Alvarez, who raised $37,000 and spent $16,000 last quarter. He had $173,000 left on Dec. 31.

— Democratic federal agent-turned community activist Susan Khoury. She raised almost $31,000, spent $1,500 and had $18,000 left to start 2024.

— Miami-Dade Police Sgt. Orlando “Orly” Lopez. He raised $2,500 and spent twice as much, leaving himself with $9,000 with just under nine months before the Republican Primary.

— Republican Miami-Dade Police officer Rolando Riera, who raised $1,800 and had all of it left at the quarter’s close after spending nothing.

— Retired Miami-Dade Police Sergeant and former police union President John Rivera, a Republican. He raised $1,000 and spent less than $100. Due to bigger and better hauls in prior quarters, he had $26,000 at the end of December.

— Retired Miami-Dade Police Lt. Rickey Mitchell, a Democratic funeral home magnate who has run a mostly self-funded campaign. He raised just $900 in Q4, but still had $245,000 in his campaign account.

— Republican Miami City Police officer Ruamen DelaRua. He raised $200, spent $1,000 and had just over $1,200 left over.

— Republican Alex Fornet, a retired Miami-Dade Police reserve officer. He loaned himself $100 and had exactly that left at the end of the quarter.

— Republican Miami-Dade Police officer Jaspen Bishop. He raised nothing in Q4, spent $200 and had $1,600 remaining.

Miami-Dade hasn’t had an elected Sheriff since 1966, when county voters eliminated the position after a grand jury report revealed rampant corruption within the department. Instead, Miami-Dade has a Police Director, who is appointed by and reports to the Mayor.

That arrangement is changing this year. In 2018, 58% of Miami-Dade voters joined a statewide supermajority in approving a constitutional amendment requiring all 67 counties in Florida to have an elected Sheriff, Tax Collector, Property Appraiser and Clerk of Courts by early 2025.

Former Miami-Dade Police Director Alfredo “Freddy” Ramirez, a Republican-turned-Democrat, was widely considered a shoo-in for the returning Sheriff post until he attempted suicide on July 23 following a domestic dispute with his wife at a Sheriff’s conference in Tampa.

He dropped out of the race Sept. 20.


Editor’s note: This report has been updated to reflect fundraising by Sanchez’s political committee. An earlier version of this report listed Knapp as the top fundraiser.

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

  • John Russell

    January 17, 2024 at 8:53 am

    “Democratic” is not a political party,,, “Democrat” is.
    Using the term “Democratic retired federal agent” or “democratic funeral director” is a misuse of the term as both parties are democratic.
    “Retired federal agent, Democrat John Doe, …..” would be an accurate way of describing party affiliation. .

Comments are closed.


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