Miami Mayor Francis Suarez
Miami Mayor Francis Suarez is keen to make his city a tech hub, and specially a center for the cryptocurrency trade. Marco BELLO/AFP

Miami mayor Francis Suárez is under scrutiny by the Florida Commission on Ethics over allegations that he received expensive tickets to past World Cup soccer matches and to the Miami Grand Prix auto race.

Florida law prohibits elected officials from accepting gifts from vendors, lobbyists or their employees and requires them to disclose the source of all gifts valued at $100 or more.

Suárez failed to file a disclosure for his December 2022 trip to the World Cup in Qatar, where he traveled with former soccer player and Florida entrepreneur David Beckham.

Beckham is a registered lobbyist for Miami Freedom, a company that is co-owning and building a Major League Soccer stadium on city-owned land.

Now, according to the Miami Herald, a developer has paid the mayor of Miami at least $170,000 over the past two years to "help cut through red tape and obtain key approvals" for a "stalled" real estate project. Location Ventures has been struggling to get its plans for the URBIN complex in the Coconut Grove neighborhood approved.

The mayor, for his part, is defending himself against the allegations, saying he was cleared by the Miami Ethics Commission and has never broken the law, and may even be considering a run for governor of Florida. The allegations come amid a climate of resignations by some Miami commissioners who have also been implicated in recent scandals. Commissioner Alex Díaz de la Portilla was suspended by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis after being accused and arrested for money laundering.

Another commissioner, Joe Carollo, was found guilty of harassing businessmen in his district.

Failed candidacy

Francis Suárez, who aims at turning Miami into a global cryptocurrency hub, recently cut short his presidential aspirations by stepping out of the Republican Party's primary run after failing to meet the minimum requirements to participate in the second GOP debate.

As if that was not enough, another scandal involving the local press has come to light. Miami Herald journalist Sarah Blaskey, who has been investigating Suárez's actions, accuses him of being unresponsive to the press and even abusive in the hallways of City Hall. Suárez defends himself by pointing out that on one occasion when he was approached by Blaskey, "she raised the camera in a way that surprised me, so I asked her to put it down and get some distance."

Blaskey has said that the mayor's work has been hampered by excuses such as the high cost of
photocopying during his investigation in public offices.

The incident has been compounded by criticism in the local press for a lack of solidarity with
Blaskey. The Miami mayor's office is a part-time job, so the mayor may have other jobs on the side. However, some critics of the official say he has too many jobs and that his assets have increased significantly.

According to Bloomberg, the mayor earns $126,000, doubled his net worth last year to $3.5
million, paid off a $1.7 million loan, and purchased real estate and a boat worth nearly a
quarter of a million dollars.

If he can clearly explain everything and show that there was no conflict of interest in his
actions, his next step would be to submit his name to replace Governor DeSantis. But first he has to pass this test, in which his political enemies are joined by other very powerful opponents, such as the Miami Herald newspaper, which continues to pursue the investigation.

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