Miami News

 The latest in the City of Miami's Legal Saga Series: Miami Mayor Francis Suarez under expanding business investigation

A recent public records request has shed light on a comprehensive investigation into the private business relationships of Miami Mayor Francis Suarez. This investigation, led by county investigators, reveals a widening scope beyond the previously known probe involving the mayor's consulting agreement with developer Rishi Kapoor.

Last year, Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernández Rundle confirmed the existence of the investigation, which focused on Suarez's $10,000 monthly consulting fee from Kapoor, coinciding with mayoral office interventions related to Kapoor's Coconut Grove development project.

Diverse business ventures and records requests broaden the scope

The recent records request filed with the city shows that investigators are now delving into at least 11 other private business ventures of Mayor Francis Suarez. Some of these side jobs were initially exposed by a Miami Herald investigation, while others came to light through federal financial disclosures made during Suarez's brief presidential campaign. These business endeavors have contributed to Mayor Suarez's substantial wealth accumulation during his tenure.

Ethics investigator Karl Ross, who is heading the inquiry, requested copies of all emails containing 14 specific keywords related to Mayor Francis Suarez's consulting agreements with financial advising firms, technology companies, a real estate firm, and City National Bank, which issued a mortgage for Suarez's residence. The request also covers emails involving the mayor's former director of constituent affairs, Lazaro Quintero, who played a role in facilitating favors for Rishi Kapoor.

Francis Suarez's defense and ongoing investigations

Stephanie Severino, Suarez's communications director, defended the mayor's ability to balance his public responsibilities with private employment, emphasizing his commitment to adhering to laws and ethics. Jose Arrojo, executive director of the ethics commission, refrained from commenting due to state and local regulations governing the matter.

The extensive records request is accessible to the public on the city's website, and Karl Ross is known for his involvement in investigations that led to the arrest of Miami Commissioner Alex Díaz de la Portilla on bribery and money laundering charges.

Apart from this ongoing joint investigation into his private work, Mayor Suarez is facing a state ethics investigation concerning the potential acceptance of expensive gifts from city lobbyists and a federal inquiry related to his work with Rishi Kapoor. The records request also sought emails mentioning Citadel, a hedge fund owned by Ken Griffin, though Citadel confirmed that Mayor Francis Suarez has never been employed by the firm.

City National Bank of Florida, where Suarez worked as a consultant in 2022, offered insights into their association with the mayor, highlighting his role as a strategic advisor. Their statement emphasized Suarez's contribution to Miami's growth as a global city. The relationship between Mayor Francis Suarez and the bank concluded in June, following his decision to run for president.

For more updates on this ongoing investigation and the broader legal saga in the City of Miami, continue following our series here. The initial report of this news was brought to light by the Miami Herald.

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