The Miami Dolphins’ lobbying team looks like a reunion of Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez’s campaign brain trust.
To push for a $400-million stadium renovation funded in part with tax dollars, the Dolphins have enlisted three key figures from Gimenez’s recent election races: Marcelo Llorente, Brian Goldmeier and Jesse Manzano-Plaza.
Llorente, who became a frequent presence on the campaign trail after losing his own mayoral bid, has been hired as one of the Dolphins’ Tallahassee lobbyists. Goldmeier, Gimenez’s fundraiser, and Manzano-Plaza, a former Gimenez campaign manager, have been brought on as advisers to help drum up community support for the Dolphins’ plan.
The three men’s participation could indicate a calculated effort on the Dolphins’ part to appeal to the mayor, whom Miami-Dade commissioners tasked on Wednesday with negotiating a potential deal with the football team. Gimenez was a stubborn critic of the lopsided public financing deal for the new Miami Marlins ballpark in Little Havana — a position that helped the former commissioner in his campaign for mayor.
Gimenez dismissed the suggestion that a particular lobbying or campaign team could curry favor with his office.
“If anybody knows me, you can hire whoever you want. At the end of the day, I work for the people of Miami-Dade County — that’s who pays my salary,” he said in an interview Thursday. “I’m pretty black-and-white about things like that.”
Gimenez, who said he was unaware of Llorente’s and Manzano-Plaza’s involvement with the Dolphins, said his former election workers are successful in their own right.
“They’re very good at what they do, and they’re professionals,” he said. “I would hope that’s why the Dolphins hired them. In terms of me, that makes no difference.”