Columns

Shouldn't Annette Taddeo Have to Explain 537 Consulting LLC?

By: Nancy Smith | Posted: July 21, 2014 3:55 AM
Annette Taddeo and Charlie Crist

Annette Taddeo, Charlie Crist's running mate, has questions to answer

The Democrats' 537 Consulting LLC certainly looks a lot like the Republicans' disgraced Victory Strategies did in 2010.

It's time Annette Taddeo, Miami-Dade Democratic Party chairwoman just named Charlie Crist's running mate, explained a few things about the company set up by two party staff members, one of them her executive director, and receiving "consulting"  business from the Miami-Dade Democratic Executive Committee.

Under Taddeo's leadership, the Miami-Dade DEC gave a contract to 537 Consulting LLC -- a company whose registered agents are local DEC Executive Director Juan C. Cuba and local DEC Communications Director Rachel Johnson.

Nancy Smith

Nancy Smith

537 Consulting's address is listed as 3635 SW 23 St., Miami, FL 33145.

The company was formed at approximately the same time in early 2013 as the contract was drawn, ostensibly to move the Miami-Dade DEC's employees from a W2, salaried status, to a 1099 independent-contractor designation. Taddeo told party members the DEC was short on cash and couldn't afford to pay staff Social Security and other benefits. She told the executive committee 537 Consulting LLC would be given the contract to pay staff.


By all accounts the contract was presented to the executive committee membership as a fait accomplis, already reviewed and approved by attorney Joe Geller of Greenspoon Marder. There was nothing to vote on, so no vote taken.

The contract was never put out for bid.

Taddeo has to know about all of this. She has to. Under FDP and Miami-Dade DEC bylaws, the chair signs all payroll checks. The pertinent information is in 2.2.6, page 13 of the FDP document, stating policy plainly: "Checks in the amount of twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000) or less and staff salary checks may be signed by the state chair only." The same holds true for county executive committees -- the county DEC chair signs the salary checks.

Taddeo had to know she was paying her executive director Cuba as what? An independent contractor? Or, if not, a salaried employee? Is he double dipping? Under the 1099 description, Cuba as top executive doesn't qualify as an independent contractor.

This conceivably could present a problem for the Florida Democratic Party. DEC chairmen and treasurers are required to be bonded and it looks as if Miami-Dade's are not. Or, if they are, certainly the item/expenditure doesn't show up anywhere that I can find.

So, Taddeo skips the bidding process, gives an exclusive contract to an employee, to accept money for "consulting" -- which includes paying himself and his partner in the business, another DEC director.

Doesn't she think Democrats -- in fact, all Floridians who recognize Taddeo could be Florida's next lieutenant governor -- might want this convoluted business relationship with 537 Consulting LLC, explained? 

As a reminder, RPOF Chairman Jim Greer went to prison for his contract with a company set up by his executive director, Delmar Johnson. The two-page contract gave Johnson's company, Victory Strategies, 10 percent of the money he raised from major donors. For that reason alone, how the Cuba-Johnson company functions needs fresh air and sunshine.

Maybe it's all as clean as a G-rated Disney cartoon, but it's unusual enough to scare even the party faithful. And it smells bad, this 537 Consulting LLC.

Check out Florida Statutes 103.121(3) -- attached below -- and think again about Victory Strategies: "Any chair or treasurer of a state or county executive committee of any political party who knowingly misappropriates, or makes an unlawful expenditure of, or a false or improper accounting for, the funds of such committee is guilty of a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084."

From the Miami-Dade DEC treasurer's report (it's online), here's the list of expenditures -- checks written to 537 Consulting LLC -- during the first quarter of 2014:

  • $995.50 on 1/8/14 for valet parking at a New Year's Eve event
  • $4,200.00 on 1/15/14 for "Dec. 20 invoice for political consulting"
  • $3,425.00 on 1/15/14 for "Jan. 3 invoice for political consulting"
  • $8,050.00 on 2/7/14 for "political consulting for the month of January"
  • $8,050.00 on 3/3/14 for "political consulting for the month of February"
  • $864.00 on 3/17/14 for "food and event space at Annual Legislative Reception"
  • $713.00 on 3/17/14 for "Website costs in Jan. and Feb."
  • $1,479.90 on 3/17/14 for "online advertising on social media platforms."

Was 537 Consulting LLC established by the Democrats for the sole purpose of doing their own business? Does 537 Consulting LLC have other clients? Even one? It pays wages and presumably performs social media tasks, but what else does it do? How much else? Do Cuba and Johnson get any piece of the action apart from their pay?

I'd like to hear Taddeo explain how giving a contract to her executive director's new company and paying him to work for the party at the same time isn't a conflict of interest.

I would also like to apologize for being unable to reach either Taddeo or Cuba. Taddeo had a busy weekend, I can understand that. But Juan Cuba was out of sight -- at least for me, and I was unsuccessful in finding him. Cuba is something of an enigma, more like the Incredible Disappearing Man than the Democrat running in House District 116 against Jose Felix Diaz. There is no mention of 537 Consulting LLC on his LinkedIn resume, no prominent photo of him on the Internet.

Still, I wish I could have produced answers for you instead of questions. There's still time. You deserve to know the truth and you will have it.



Reach Nancy Smith at nsmith@sunshinestatenews.com or at 228-282-2423.

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Comments (19)

whats the big deal here
3:08PM JUL 21ST 2014
There is no ethics anywhere in politics anymore. The only reason you single her out is because CharLie jumped the Bush Plantation.

Governor Rick Scott was the Bush family Dallas, Tx oil and hospital lawyer with Johnson and Swanson. Partners with Gw Bush and Tom Hicks in the Texas Rangers. In 19887 when Jeb's partner Miguel Recarey fled the US to Venezuela running from his indictment for the first largest Medicare Fraud in US history Jeb called in Rick Scott who partnered with Richard Rainwater to pick up the pieces of Miguel's International Medical Centers and parlay that already in progress venture already put into place with Jeb's phone calls to the HHS into the largest Medicare Fraud in US history. This is what made Rick Scott take the fifth 75 times!

All the people have to chose from for politicians is the ones owned by the criminal empire that runs the world. First they control who is allowed to run, then they control the vote optical scanners with computer chips that give our votes to their chosen ones.

Hillary slipped up and told the truth when she said "what difference does it make!"

Maybe what the voters should do is stay home and refuse to vote in these next anointment exercises. What would they do then if they had no voter count to spread around to their winners?
J. R. Stein
3:43PM JUL 21ST 2014
You are another one blind to the reality. Ask Jim Greer and Delmar Johnson what the big deal is. Get a grip man! We need to ask ourselves why WE singled her out not why THEY singled her out.
Sam Feldman
2:07PM JUL 21ST 2014
"Much ado about nothing." This is all garbage from a malcontent Democratic Executive Committee (DEC) Member creating a hatemongering fest towards Annette Taddeo.

Annette has converted the DEC into a functioning organization that it never was, at least not in the past 10 years. Her experience as a small business owner shows in the flow of work getting successfully getting done by the "consultants" and in the accomplishments of the Miami Dade Democratic Party in less that two short years.

And that everything was checked out by Joe Geller, apparently the current DEC legal advisor, makes total sense given the fact that Joe was the DEC Chairman for over 10 years and knows the bylaws inside out. His approval carries a lot of weight.

Besides, these are all IRS or Federal Elections Department. If there are any issues, the heavy hand of the law will fall on the DEC. Please note that no legal actions by the government has taken place yet and I don't expect to see any.

So, like I said at the beginning, this is all about nothing and obviously a DEC member perpetrating a hateful undermining of Annette Taddeo potential for election. It's all garbage...
J. R. Stein
3:03PM JUL 21ST 2014
You, sir, are the voice of the party who have come on this cite to blow smoke and cover for what you people keep failing to do which is to VET OUR CANDIDATES!!!!! Taddeo-Goldstein is going to be found out and you know it. She is a bad business woman, even I know that. Miamians know that. If you had examined her books you would have seen. She will embarass our party and Chairwoman Tant again. I bet Jim Greer is chuckling his head off.
Lateresa Jones
10:43AM JUL 21ST 2014
Nan is the best candidate for the job, Charlie is the favorite.
Lateresa Jones
10:40AM JUL 21ST 2014
This is about being fair. When business is done unfairly it effects small business, considering so many minorities are bamboozled out of the opportunity to bid fairly on contracts. This isn't about parties, its about the people having all the needed information to make a voting decision based on morals and values. The reality, most people want a change in the governors seat.
Michael
10:38AM JUL 21ST 2014
I would be curious to know if the Sunshine State News reporters are employees or independent contractors?
That is the real scam such as it is . That 10's of millions of workers are classified as independent contractors when objectively they are direct employees.
But Nancy Smith and the Republicans like that state of affairs.
Nancy Smith
2:09PM JUL 21ST 2014
FYI, Sunshine State News reporters and editors are all W2, full-time employees with benefits. We do occasionally hire a freelance writer, but that doesn't happen often.
Michael
4:10PM JUL 21ST 2014
Good for you Nancy Smith.
Might I suggest it would be a worthwhile endeavor to show how many workers are falsely classified as independent contractors and even worse, unpaid interns.
David
10:26AM JUL 21ST 2014
wow. Shocking. I feel like charlie feels threatened by Nan, so he pulled a John McCain. And like Sarah Palin, this woman had alot of baggage. This election is not over. Charlie won't be going until November.
Diane
10:02AM JUL 21ST 2014
Yes, Annette should explain any issues of legitimate concern. But I'll give you one better -- Scott should explain why he plead the 5th 75 SEVENTY-FIVE times.
Loyal Broward Democrat
10:06AM JUL 21ST 2014
Shouldn't we worry about our own house first?
Diane
10:01AM JUL 21ST 2014
Yes, Annette should explain anny issues of legitimate concern. But I'll give you one better -- Scott should explain why he plead the 5th 75 SEVENTY-FIVE times.
James R.
8:43AM JUL 21ST 2014
Nancy you are an excellent mouth piece for opposition research for the RPOF or others involved in this campaign. I know, I just know that you did not find this on your own. Of course I have come to expect you to deliver "spoon fed" news.
Repubtallygirl
10:09AM JUL 21ST 2014
She is an actual reporter, unlike most of the lap dogs to Dems that work for the other 'news outlets'.

Can you answer the questions she raised or are you going to just spew name calling?
Loyal Broward Democrat
10:03AM JUL 21ST 2014
James R. I fail to understand you. You are more concerned with the messanger than the message. Who cares who 'spoon fed' the writer. If this story is correct, once again our party failed to 'vet' a candidate and we have hurt ourselves. I for one want to hear what Annette has to say for herself! Pronto!
LLynn
12:07PM JUL 21ST 2014
This does not look good. I agree.

Charlie Crist should have chosen Dan Gelber or one of the many qualified legislators we have serving us.

Charlie is going to find out the hard way just how difficult it is for any Miami Dade politico to stay out of trouble.

This is a real issue that someone like Christian Ulvert should fix.
Susan
12:21PM JUL 21ST 2014
Ha! As if Charlie stayed out of trouble. Greer, Rothstein, etc...

Please. He has enough felons in his donor base to cause his own stink
Mark
5:53AM JUL 21ST 2014
Ho hum. Look around the state and you'll find County Commission, and state legislation candidates from both parties doing the same thing. Nothing new here.

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