Dear Miami Herald, My family has been a part of the South Florida community since 1952. My grandfather, Anthony Abraham, was a pillar of our community and devout philanthropist and active in our nation’s politics. He instilled in me the importance of giving back to my community and to those less fortunate. It has been my longtime goal to follow in my grandfather’s footsteps and be more active in how the public selects our state, county, and local leaders. Another example I’ve observed is Norman Braman, who has long led, spearheaded, and contributed to candidates and political committees at all levels of government.
So in 2015, I decided to become proactively involved in our state and community’s political process. I sought legal counsel, did my homework, and started People for Better Leaders, a political committee registered with the Florida Division of Elections. One motivating factor was providing a counterbalance against the abuse and excessive power by Mayor Levine and his Relentless for Progress Committee.
I have personally known Michael Grieco and utilized his legal services for over seven years. Because he is in public office with sound knowledge of election law, I utilized his legal services to help me complete the forms for my political committee. At that moment, and until this email now, Michael Grieco was captured under attorney-client privilege and not authorized to breach that.
I have solely led this political committee, informed people and organizations in the community about it, and solicited contributions for it. This is my first amendment right to do so. It is my protected free speech.
However, Miami Beach politics and TheMiami Herald seems to be very dirty, as about a year ago, when Commissioner Arriola was considering to run for Mayor of Miami Beach in 2017, he began his smear campaign to attribute my political committee to Commissioner Grieco. Then early this year, when Dan Gelber decided to run against Commissioner Grieco for Mayor of Miami Beach, the attacks and slander have increased with the use of his consultant Christian Ulvert (who he shares with Mayor Levine and a high-profile controversial developer). Me, my family, and my donors have been subjected to a barrage of calls and accusations, simply for exercising our right to free speech and participation in the political process.
Recently, in what I can only characterize as a closely coordinated effort, Mayor Levine, Commissioner Arriola, and Commissioner Malakoff have all abused their positions of power at City Hall to attack and degrade legitimate individuals and businesses in Miami Beach, solely because they’ve donated to my political committee. That is a clear cut example of abuse of power by politicians for political purposes.
But worse yet, is your conduct, tactics, and recent “news” articles. The Miami Herald, by your actions, has degraded itself to act like a political attack arm of the Dan Gelber for Mayor campaign. This week you published an editorial attacking Grieco and calling him a racist simply because of his efforts to try and clean up his city’s Memorial Day holiday weekend problem. You have been a tool and large part of his effort to smear, falsely attack, and basically slander Michael Grieco and the service he’s provided to the public since his election in 2013. Evidence of this is attached, as Nehamas has tweeted unprofessionally, repeatedly, and outrageously against Commissioner Grieco. I’ve done my own investigations, and your conduct has been an abuse of your role of what should be an unbiased and independent newspaper for the public. Yet ironically and hypocritically, you’ve served as an accomplice to the Gelber campaign in harassing, attacking, and belittling my donors and me simply because we have chosen to participate in our first amendment right to political free speech.
For your paper to first accept the Gelber campaign’s handwriting expert and have the intent to publish yesterday’s article, only to have Grieco’s campaign discredit your tactic as clear cut and gross bias, then spend your newspaper’s money to justify your line of attack is evidence that you’re in complete coordination with Gelber’s campaign against Commissioner Grieco.
What is most despicable and outrageous is that you conducted yourself in this manner only to “reveal” that Michael Grieco was telling you the truth all along (that this is not his political committee), and that he was legally prohibited from answering your questions about his handwriting because he was captured under attorney-client privilege.
As a result of your newspapers attacks and smear campaign, and also due to the political attacks against my donors by the Mayor and Commissioners Arriola and Malakoff, I have decided today to close my political committee (see attached letter to the Florida Division of Elections). However, now, more than ever, I will remain active in our political process in other capacities and encourage my donors to not allow you or other political bullies to silence their right to free speech.
Since I have no faith in your ability to report the truth about our local politics, I have copied for the public record the City of Miami Beach Clerk, who is that city’s chief elections officer and custodian of the public record.
I compel you to cease further harassment or slander against me or my donors.
Chairman, People for Better Leaders