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After winning GOP primary, Miami congressional candidate still doesn't intend to disclose firm clients

@PatriciaMazzei

Nothing has dogged Miami Republican congressional candidate Carlos Curbelo on the campaign trail more than his refusal to disclose the clients of his media and public relations firm, Capitol Gains.

The company isn't registered in his name. He hasn't appeared in corporation records filed with the state of Florida since 2009, when Curbelo says he was advised by U.S. Senate attorneys to divest from his firm. Curbelo was state director for Florida Republican Senator George LeMieux from 2009-10.

But Curbelo listed himself as the company's president, owner or principal in various federal campaign contributions he made in 2013.

That year, Curbelo donated $500 in January to Miami Republican Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart and reported his occupation as president of Capitol Gains. In May, a $2,500 contribution to Republicans for Immigration Reform, a so-called "SuperPAC," listed him as Capitol Gains' owner. And in December, in a $2,600 contribution to his own congressional campaign, Curbelo wrote that he was a Capitol Gains "principal."

That same year, Curbelo's financial disclosure filed with Congress reported the firm as an asset belonging to his wife that paid him a salary.

Curbelo readily acknowledges that he runs the firm he founded in 2002. His wife, Cecilia, who for the past five years as been listed as the corporation's sole managing member, stopped working in 2009 when the couple's first daughter, Sylvie Marie, was born.

So why hasn't he changed the firm back into his own name?

"Each family has the right to structure its finances however it pleases, and in 2009 we made this decision when Senate lawyers recommended it," Curbelo said. "We've found no reason to change that since then. My commitment is to follow the law and to disclose all of the information that is required by the law." 

He said he still has no plans to disclose his client list, saying they are common knowledge because he has been their voice in public, usually as a Spanish-language media spokesman or, in the case of Malaysian casino giant Genting, as a lobbyist. (He is no longer registered.) Curbelo has been a Hispanic spokesman for former Republican presidential candidates John McCain and Fred Thompson, and for Diaz-Balart and his brother, ex-Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, among others.

GOP primary opponents Curbelo handily defeated Tuesday had said he should disclose his clients because, as a sitting Miami-Dade County School Board member, some of the clients might do business with the public school district. He has countered that such a conflict would be prohibited, and that his firm has checked with the School Board attorney to avoid any problems.

"Everyone can go online, view all my investments, all my bank accounts, all the stocks I own," he said. "We're not very wealthy, but we're proud of what we've achieved for our family."

National Democrats have hammered Curbelo on the issue, and likely will keep doing so. Incumbent Democrat Joe Garcia himself called Curbelo a "lobbyist" the night of his primary victory.

But expect Curbelo to counter by continuing to highlight that Garcia's former chief of staff pleaded guilty last year to breaking Florida elections law and remains under federal investigation for a suspected 2010 ringer candidate. Curbelo held a news conference Thursday outside the Miami-Dade elections department to remind voters about the incidents. Garcia has denied any involvement.

"I invite Mr. Garcia and his campaign to also follow the law," Curbelo said, "something that they have struggled with in recent years."

Comments

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Joaquin

Curbelo is a weasel. What's he hiding?

Bill Thompson

Come on, Crookelo, you can't have it both ways.

Elaine de Valle, aka Ladra

The only reason for Crybaby Curbelo, at this point, NOT to disclose this client list that has become so controversial is because it would, indeed, expose a conflict of interest. Otherwise, why wouldn't he be transparent in a race where this will definitely cost him votes.

Anybody else running for Congress -- or for any office, for that matter -- should and would have said, from Day 1, "Hey, you're right. Gee, that escaped my attention. I should have changed this years ago. I'm going to change it now." And then change it and file a new disclosure form. THAT is what we should expect from our electeds or even our political candidates.

It is true that Curbelo is complying with the law. That is EXACTLY the point of my story in Political Cortadito that exposed this little loophole he is using. By putting the company in his wife's name, he doesn't have to LEGALLY disclose his clients. Doesn't make it right. Isn't that the same thing Crybaby Curbelo said about Ed MacDougall not living in the district? Look at the tape from the CBS4 show with Jim DeFede. That is exactly what he said. Because he's a hypocrite to boot.

It's also disingenuous to say that he is publicly on the camera for all his clients. That may be for some, but not necessarily for all.

Some law enforcement agency -- the State Attorney's Office comes to mind -- should investigate. Subpoenas for his bank records would show where the checks and deposits are coming from. Because it would be really easy for him to take checks from people he helps smooth things over with at the School Board. Nobody would know. Because that's the whole point of disclosure laws.

And now he can do that in Congress, too. If he wants. How would we know?

Voters shouldn't let him.

Donna

Crookelo. Haha. That's a funny one. But seriously, this seems like a pretty big deal and raises a whole new set of questions. Like did he lie to Putney and the rest of the Republicans when he said it wasn't his company? And who is running the company anyway. He keeps saying he is a businessman and owner in one sentence and that he works for his wife's company in the next sentence. Which is it?

Ed MacDougall

The Herald got what it wanted by endorsing this lobbyist. Controversy! That makes for selling papers. Blame all those elected officials for their endorsement of this guy so they could have a do-boy with IOU's that they can control. Blame the Republican Party people who never said a word about endorsing prior to a primary. The system is used against the people. It is just that simple. The democratic and republican committees could easily stop this but they are slaves to those in office. Don't blame Curbelo, he is just a puppet.

Yes, I was one of the candidates that lost to Curbelo, I was witness to what happened. The people were cheated out of having the candidates EARNING a place to serve.

Tell it like it is, Mario, Ileana, Jeb and Mitt are nothing less than liberty thieves. They should pay the price for what they did. National and local political committees are complicit, hold them accountable as well. Just don't blame Carlos Curbelo, at the least, he will provide corruption headlines for us to read.

I will spend the rest of my life trying to open the eyes of the honest Americans who only want honest political leaders. It will be easier to do this from the sidelines.

Truth o meter

The Miami Herald Has lost there way, they let money in the way of the truth, I am a Republican,but I can't vote for a party puppet.... My vote will got to Joe Garcia

Golden B.

Liberty thieves? I like that because that's exactly what it is. Politicians should stay out of primaries, in both parties. But really after all, what is so sad in this situation is that they endorsed the least qualified candidate. Why? Shouldn't the Party want to have the best we got?

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