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Controversial Miami Beach PAC still hasn't returned donations

@joeflech

People for Better Leaders, a controversial Miami Beach political committee that raised money from special interests and came under mounting scrutiny for its ties to commissioner and mayoral candidate Michael Grieco, has a history of blowing deadlines for filing financial updates with the state elections department.

It appears that pattern hasn't changed. Even after that committee's chairman, Brian Abraham, stated on June 9 that he would close the committee and return contributions to donors on a pro rated basis, state filings show he has yet to do that as of this week. 

When the Miami Herald emailed Abraham last week about the delay, he had a short reply.

"All donations are being returned to donors and PAC is being closed," he wrote.

Calls to several donors were not returned over the last week.

The committee raised $200,000 from donors including prominent lobbyists, developers and city vendors. Two donors interviewed by the Herald linked the committee to Grieco in early June, prompting the commissioner to vehemently deny any connection to the group.

Following a series of articles outlining Grieco's connection to the committee — including handwriting analyses by forensic document experts that confirmed Grieco's handwriting appeared on paperwork by the committee — Abraham said he had hired Grieco to help him file that paperwork.

Abraham also announced the committee would close and money would be returned to contributors, and he indicated the same in a June 9 letter to the state elections department. 

Grieco may have violated a Beach ethics ordinance that prohibits candidates and elected officials from asking vendors and lobbyists for donations, either directly or through a third party. Meanwhile, the Miami-Dade state attorney's office has opened an investigation into the committee's activities

In June, he told the Herald he welcomed an "objective, thorough and professional inquiry because it will show no wrongdoing."

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