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MIAMI MIRROR TRUE REFLECTIONS

23 April 2012 Joe Centorino, Director MIAMI DADE COUNTY COMMISSION ON ETHICS AND PUBLIC TRUST Subjects: Commissioner Michael Gongora, Esq., and Oaths or Affirmation Dear Mr. Centorino: As you know, COE Advocate Michael Murawski declined to further investigate the corruption allegations against Miami Beach Commissioner Michael Gongora, Esq., as I had requested in my letter to you of 28 March 2012 (copy attached), wherein I expressed my dissatisfaction with the Florida Bars curt dismissal of the case for apparent lack of probable cause, due to insufficiency of evidence. The insufficiency was in my opinion a result of the Bars apparently unwillingness to conduct a thorough investigation, and instead, to take Mr. Gongoras flat denial, made through his attorney, as fully counterbalancing the sworn testimony of two witnesses. The Bar investigator apparently did not question another witness, Randy Hilliard, Mr. Gongoras political consultant and campaign manager. I raised the issue of the credibility of witnesses with Mr. Murawski, and offered my opinion that the sworn statements of a strip club owner and his marketing manager should not be ignored simply because of the nature of their legal business, that to impeach them as witnesses should require a showing that that were disreputable liars and convicted perjurers et cetera.

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MIAMI MIRROR TRUE REFLECTIONS


Mr. Murawski mentioned that Mr. Hilliard had once styled himself as The Prince of Darkness, so I conducted a brief investigation into his background, and discovered that he reportedly turned states witness in a Key West case to gain immunity from bribery-related charge. Mr. Hilliard reportedly wore a wire in his scant swim trunks at a nudist pool bara bag with another recording device was planted nearbyto record a damning conversation with a former county attorney for Monroe County. Mr. Hilliard ventured to Miami Beach, where he served the SunPost as political columnist for several years, became familiar with real estate developers through contacts with advertisers who supported the local newspaper, and then took up political consulting with the result that he collected many thousands of dollars from various city commissioners. More recently, in 2009, I understand that he filed a complaint with your good commission, accusing the City of Miami Beach and the Miami & The Beaches Hotel Association with what appeared to be blatant ethics violations regarding lobbyist Stuart Blumberg. I remarked to Mr. Murawski that Commissioner Michael Gongora, Esq., himself has an illustrious history, including accusations of ethical violations, and that, although I liked him, I like many other people have cause to doubt the word of politician-lawyers even when highly esteemed and sworn (witness President Clinton). He responded, saying that even if there were four sworn statements, two-against-two, the case would amount to they said against they said, and that he would not initiate the filing of a complaint against Mr. Gongora if the only evidence he had were conflicting statements. He said he would need more than that to substantiate the allegations. I asked him if he would be inclined to inquire into the matter further if he had a recording of the conversation wherein the allegedly extortionate offer was made, to induce the strip code owner to hire Mr. Hilliard in exchange for Mr. Gongoras cooperation in getting the Madonna Club a liquor license even though its entertainers do not wear pasties and thongs. He responded with a maybe. I likewise queried Kenneth Marvin, Florida Bar Director of Lawyer Regulation, on the matter, asking if the Bar had power to grant immunity from prosecution for violation of the states eavesdropping law (Fl. Stat. 934.03) to which he responded: The Bar does not have authority to grant immunity and if the recording is contraband, I'm not sure that we could introduce it into evidence. Mr. Gongora expressed disappointment that I had made my inquiry with the Commission on Ethics after he had referred me to the infinite wisdom of the Florida Bar. As far as he is concerned, whenever the Bar dismisses a complaint, nothing more should be said about it. I responded, pointing out that the Bar complaint and its disposition has been publicized by the Bar according to its Rules, that almost any lay person who read the file as it stood would believe that the allegedly inappropriate behavior took place, and that he should desire that his name be better cleared.
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MIAMI MIRROR TRUE REFLECTIONS


I said that I believed that he would, as a lawyer-statesman, want to encourage people like me to illuminate the conduct of public officials. (That would of course include Florida Bar investigators and counsel). I noted that my original interest was in the Bars conduct, not in his, and that he had evaded my question on that subject. He responded that people tend to believe the worst wherefore further publicity is damaging. My opinion is that the scandal is already out there forever on the Internet, along with the Bar file, so further publicity does not add to the damage, and may ameliorate it. It is to that end that I am pursuing the matter a little further. I intend to draft a feature article setting forth the information above while further elaborating on it and bringing forth even more information. I will add, for example, that I appreciate the position of your Advocate; nevertheless, I, as a layman without any training in the law, would not dismiss the value of an oath sworn, or, in the alternative, a declaration affirmed, under penalties of perjury. Mr. Gongora knows that I would have dropped this issue entirely if he and Mr. Hilliard had presented me with affidavits repudiating the oaths or affirmations made by the owner of Club Madonna and his marketing manager. I would rather see Mr. Gongora and his consultant subpoenaed to testify; if they denied wrongdoing, we would have a true stalemate; if they pleaded the Fifth Amendment, we would have a false one. Curiously, during my cursory research into the credibility of the witnesses, I encountered an anonymous statement, made in the Genius of Despair Blog on 15 February 2007, that you were at that time a friend of Randy Hilliard for ten years: Of course nearly every sitting Miami Beach Commissioner has paid off Randy Hilliard, as nearly everyone has admitted in private to me since 1994. What is outrageous is as I write, he is continued to run a political consulting business from a subletted residential apartment and Code Compliance is so scared of his influence on the Fourth Floor they will not cite him! But, remember, he just elected Michael Gongora Commissioner - and Gongora only was saved from losing by Joe Centorino's last-minute statement that he was a resident under the Florida State Law! Surprise, Surprise! Joe Centorino is reportedly a 10 year friend of Hilliard as well as a former colleague of his political allies Kent Harrision, Robbins and David Dermer! I shall attempt to track down the source of that statement. My distrust of blogs is such that I deeply resent being referred to as a blogger; however, I do not trust a newspaper any farther than I can throw it. Therefore I want your comments on your alleged friendship with Mr. Hilliard and your collegiate association with the others, And I would deeply appreciate anything else that you may generously offer on the subject matter, perhaps by way of advice and guidance as a seasoned public corruption attorney. Sincerely,

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MIAMI MIRROR TRUE REFLECTIONS


David Arthur Walters Independent Journalist

CC: Michael Gongora, Esq. Michael Murawski, Esq. Kenneth Marvin, Esq.

Monday, April 23, 2012 Director of Miami Dade Ethics Commission responds to remarks in Genuis of Despair Blog Mr. Walters, I became acquainted with all of the people you mention over the course of my many years at the State Attorneys Office. Because of my position there, I became acquainted with thousands of people in the political sphere in Miami-Dade County. I always tried to keep my interactions with everyone both cordial and professional. I do not regard any of them as personal friends. I do not socialize with any of them. None of them would receive any special consideration from me or my agency. In regard to the specific matter that you raised with our agency, Mr. Murawski handling of it was not the result of any involvement on my part other than to refer the matter to him for his consideration. Joseph Centorino

ATTACHMENT

March 28, 2012 Joe Centorino, Director MIAMI DADE COMMISSION ON ETHICS AND PUBLIC TRUST Subject: Michael Gongora & Club Madonna
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MIAMI MIRROR TRUE REFLECTIONS


Dear Mr. Centorino: Thank you for your response to my inquiry as to whether or not the Commission on Ethics and Public Trust is investigating or intends to investigate the sworn statements of Leroy Griffith and Carl Zublotny of Club Madonna, to the effect that, on 12 July 2010, they met with Michael Gongora and his campaign manager, Randy Hilliard, and that Gongora offered to act officially in favor of Griffith so that Griffith might get a fair hearing on legislation that would benefit him, provided that he hire Hilliard to lobby or poll the commissioners as to their positions on the legislation. You stated that you have received nothing on the issue. I neglected to point out in my email inquiry that I had attached thereto my article Pasties & Thongs which includes relevant portions of the Florida Bar File No. No. 2011-70,952(11F) on the matter, and that I had previously emailed you a copy of that article on March 8. For your convenience, I am attaching another copy of the article to this communication, as well as a copy of the Bar file along with my notes thereto. Gongora simply denied the allegation through his attorney. Hilliard was apparently not questioned by Bar counsel. The Florida Bar decided not to charge Gongora with a violation of its Rules, and provided no explanation other than it had acquired no independent evidence of a violation. The Florida Bar declined to provide me with a further explanation of its finding. It is dangerous to trust officials who are unwilling to explain their conduct. The Florida Bar is accountable only to itself since it is a bar integrated with the Supreme Court of Florida and has arrogated to itself an inherent power to regulate its officers independently of the legislature and executive. Its conflict of interest is inherent in its structure; not only does the Bar license and discipline attorneys, it represents their political and economic interests as well. Of course it does an excellent job for the public in many respects, but that is beside the point here. The lack of an explanation for its finding in this instance actually works against its member, Michael Gongora, despite his statement that the Florida Bar is infinitely wise, for any reasonable person reading the Bar file, which is available to the public for one year after the finding of no probable cause, would believe, given what they see in the Bar file and in press accounts of other ethical issues raised involving Gongora, that it is improbable that Griffith and Zablotny concocted the story, and that Gongora probably tried to use his official position to get Hilliard a paid assignment. Of course they would think otherwise if more information were available to remove the smudge from the politicians name. In fine, the explanation is inadequate, and the inadequacy casts doubt on the quality of the investigation, bar counsel, and grievance committee. Now you have implied that this matter would ordinarily be investigated by the State Attorney. I doubt that the State Attorney would bother to inquire into allegations against an attorney when those allegations have been dismissed by Florida Bar attorneys for want of independent
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evidence, a lack that might make a conviction for felonious extortion highly unlikely. Furthermore, state attorneys are not wont to explain themselves to the public hence themselves are widely distrusted by the public. I note here in passing that Griffith sued the Miami-Dade State Attorneys office over an indecency charge for the film, Three Ripening Cherries, and won. Now I have noticed that the Commission on Ethics and Public Trust, although its scope is quite limited and it does not have very big teeth, does explain its decisions and provide opinions, and in doing so it fulfills its mission to educate the public on important ethical issues in such a way as to gain public trust. Here the Commission on Ethics and Public Trust has an extraordinary opportunity do just that by completing the investigation that the Bar apparently left incomplete, and fully explaining its decision. Perhaps the pretext for your jurisdiction in this matter could be Sec. 2-11.1(g) of the Conflict of Interest and Code of Ethics Ordinance: Exploitation of official position prohibited. No person...shall use or attempt to use his or her official position to secure special privileges or exemptions for himself or herself or others. The special privilege here might be the privilege of getting the fee that Hilliard would have allegedly obtained instead of some other lobbyist, by virtue of his special relationship with the commissioner. In any case, I believe your institution has the power to speak on ethical issues not specifically identified in the governing ordinance. Please know that my intention is not to file a complaint with the Commission on Ethics and Public Trust, but to shed some light on the behavior of the Commission on Ethics and Public Trust as well as The Florida Bar, and on their respective codes. Both agencies can initiate inquiries on the basis of information received from any source that would arouse a reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing within their purview. You may wonder about my personal prejudices in this matter. As a matter of fact, I know Gongora and I like him. I have never met Griffith, Zublotny, and Hilliard. I do not frequent strip clubs and bars, and I find public nudity embarrassing to say the least. Yesterday afternoon, as I was interviewing two girls from Club Madonnas main competitor, Rachels, one of them pulled down her shorts on 9th Street and Washington Avenue and bent over so the other could take a picture of her derriere in order to send it to her boyfriendI blushed and left the scene in a hurry. It is with the above in mind that I ask if the Commission on Ethics and Public Trust intends to investigate this matter and/or render an opinion on it, and, if not, why not. Sincerely, David Arthur Walters Journalist

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Relevant Links: PASTIES AND THONGS http://www.scribd.com/doc/84498562/Pasties-and-Thongs-Dirty-Secrets-of-Florida-BarInquisitors BAR COMPLAINT IN RE CLUB MADONNA http://www.scribd.com/doc/83538244/Florida-Bar-Complaint-Strip-Club-Owner-v-MiamiBeach-Commissioner

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