Ethics Conference: A Must For Political Junkies






One of the biggest political issues in recent years is campaign financing.

Now you have a chance to see two of the biggest legal players in that controversy discuss their experiences.  James Bopp and John Bonifaz will argue the merits of campaign finance laws in light of two recent Supreme Court decisions — McCutcheon and Citizens’ United.

Bopp is Special Counsel to the Republican National Committee and General Counsel for the James Madison Center for Free Speech. He was lead counsel in the Citizens United case.

Bonifaz, a Boston-based constitutional lawyer and voting rights advocate, is the founder of the National Voting Rights Institute, a group that works for campaign finance reform.

The two face off in one of the sessions at the all-day Political Campaign Ethics Conference, St. Thomas University School of Law, Miami Gardens.

The best part of the May 16 conference for lawyers: Any attorney attending earns 8 hours of CLE!

According to the news release, one session features former adversaries Xavier Suarez and Kendall Coffey. They will look back at the 1997 Miami mayoral election that was overturned by an absentee ballot scandal and discuss current efforts to stem ballot scams.

Norm Ostrau, former Democratic state representative from Plantation, will discuss the state Ethics Commission procedures.  He was chair of the group.

Broward Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes will talk about the job of supervisors along with a representative of the Miami-Dade’s election office.

One session has an intriguing name: “Can Nice Candidates Win?”  Among the speakers is Joe Geller, former Miami-Dade Democratic chair now running for state House in South Broward and North Miami-Dade.

One panel that I hope will be interesting is from  2 to 2:45 p.m. entitled “Handling Election Media: Sparks, Snarks and Sharks.”  It features me, veteran Miami-Dade political consultant Irene Secada and Miami Herald political writer Marc Caputo. 

Republican activist Al Cardenas and Democrat Dan Gelber no doubt will have contrasting view on voter access during their session.

Fort Lauderdale public relations executive Chuck Malkus speaks at lunch about his bookThe Ultimate Ponzi: The Scott Rothstein Story”.

The event is sponsored by Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics & Public Trust and the St. Thomas University Center for Ethics.

It should be on the must-do list for any political junkie, consultant or candidate.

Check the conference out  through this link here.

Here is a brief roundup of the program:


Political Campaign Ethics Conference – 2014

*Campaign Money and the Citizens United Debate
*Absentee Ballot Fraud
*Ethnic & Racial Innuendo in Political Campaigns
*Voting Rights – Foiling Fraud, Protecting Access
*Campaign consultants
*Handling Election Media
*Can Nice Candidates Win?
*The Election Supervisors’ Guide for Candidates
*Phantom Contributors
*Bush v. Gore – Could it Happen Again?
Presented by
The Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics & Public Trust and
St. Thomas University Center for Ethics
Friday, May 16, 2014, 7:45 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
St. Thomas University School of Law
16401 NW 37th Ave. Miami Gardens, FL 33054

Interested in campaign financing? Read Leonard Pitts’ April 9th column: The sytem needs an intervention.
Then listen as two of the biggest legal players on the opposite side of the debate, John Bonifaz and James Bopp, hash it out.

More than 40 speakers, including Justice Gerald Kogan, Mark Caputo, Sen. Jeff Clemens, Kendall Coffey, Lincoln Diaz-Balart, Helen Ferre, Dan Gelber, Joseph Klock, Jr., George Knox, Ben Kuehne, Theresa Lepore, Roberto Martinez, Jimmy Morales, Buddy Nevins, Irene Secada, Dr. Brenda Snipes, Katy Sorenson, Xavier Suarez and many others.

Luncheon speaker: Chuck Malkus, author of The Ultimate Ponzi: The Scott Rothstein Story

Cost (includes breakfast & lunch): $90 ($75 before May 1) and $50 for students.

Attorneys earn 8 CLE credits!


7 Responses to “Ethics Conference: A Must For Political Junkies”

  1. City Activist Robert Walsh says:

    I think way to much money goes to canidates campaigns. Why should a select few call the shots because they can pour huge amounts of money to these polticians. I say cap it all off at five hundred bucks per person, per canidate. Lastly I wouldn’t send my mother’s dog to hear Chuck Malkus speak…

  2. count l f chodkiewicz chudzikiewicz says:

    Once again Mr nevins gives us helpful information that interested citizens can use even convicted felons who can’t vote

  3. Harold Duplus says:

    Our Ethics Czar should be this pro-active. At least politicians in Dade can’t say they haven’t been warned.

  4. A Lesson From Geller? says:

    Joe Geller could write the book on not nice campaigning along with his brother, Steve. Joe Geller needs to talk about how he used dirty campaigning and still lost.

  5. Alice McGill says:

    How interesting that Miami-Dade shines a light on absentee ballot fraud and Broward County ignores the issue. Perhaps Brenda Snipes can ask Lisa Duke, the person who turned in ballots for felons and dead people in a Dania Beach election, to conduct a breakout session on the use of absentee ballots. Voter education is wonderful thing.

  6. count l f chodkiewicz chudzikiewicz says:

    I am sorry to write this, especially as I don’t like Jose smith, but how can jimmy Morales speak on ethics when he made a political deal with Miami beach commissions to dump Jose smith as city attorney because he ruled twice jimmy Morales violated laws? Morales put politics before the law and he gets the city attorney no friend of mine fired and Joe turn em loose centorino has him talk on ethics. Joe Geller uses unindicted by Joe centorino crooked Randy Hilliard as his campaign advisor. Gee this supposed to be about ethics by showing examples of its lack?

  7. Ha Ha Ha says:

    Ethics problems go far, far beyond campaign (mis)conduct. The Fane Lozeman case is one in which a morally bankrupt South Florida city commission abused huge amounts of taxpayer money to egregiously bully an innocent man, completely disrespecting his Constitutional rights.

    A Florida man won a precedent-setting victory last year when the U.S. Supreme Court agreed with him that his floating home was a house, not a vessel covered by maritime law. But so far the ruling hasn’t helped him secure compensation for the home, which a city seized and destroyed using the laws that govern ships at sea.

    A judge refused in March to give homeowner Fane Lozman a single penny of the $25,000 bond posted by the city of Riviera Beach to pay for Lozman’s home in case he won. Now Lozman is seeking compensation through a separate civil rights lawsuit he filed in 2008 before another judge.

    The lawsuit claims that Riviera Beach city officials conspired to harass him and stifle his free speech rights — and eventually try to evict him from a city marina and destroy his home — because he vocally opposed a major private marina project pushed by the city.

    A hearing is scheduled for late May on the lawsuit, and Lozman has vowed not to let the matter drop. The lanky 52-year-old who served in the Marines and made millions as a financial trader in Chicago considers it his mission to fight what he considers government corruption and waste, documenting his efforts on his personal website. [ ]

    The Supreme Court’s 2013 ruling on his floating home was seen by legal experts as an important precedent in maritime law for thousands of other people who make their homes on the water as well as businesses such as floating casinos. Different laws apply to vessels and homes, with homeowners receiving some protection from seizure under state laws in Florida and elsewhere.

    Lozman’s 57-foot floating home was first unsuccessfully targeted by Riviera Beach for eviction from its marina. Then, the city declared in 2009 it was a vessel and that Lozman had to leave unless he could get it registered as such. Eventually that dispute wound up in federal court, leading to the Supreme Court ruling.

    When it came time to settle the $25,000 bond issue, Riviera Beach officials noted that the home sold for only $4,100 before it was destroyed. The winning bidder was the city itself. Still, the officials said in court papers that Lozman had ample opportunity to prevent its destruction, including bidding on it himself at an auction.

    “He should not be rewarded for a total loss that was completely avoidable,” said Jules Massee, one of the city’s attorneys, in a court document.

    Fort Lauderdale-based U.S. District Judge William Dimitrouleas — who’d previously sided with the city before the high court overturned the ruling decision — refused in March to give the bond money to Lozman.

    “This judge doesn’t decide the law of the land. The Supreme Court does,” Lozman said in an interview. “It’s a slap in the face of the Supreme Court.”

    The battle now is joined before a different federal judge on Lozman’s civil rights lawsuit, in which he claims the Riviera Beach City Council decided in a closed 2006 meeting to start a “campaign of harassment and retaliation” against him over the marina project dispute.

    That included, he says, his improper arrest while speaking at an open city council meeting, after which he was led out in handcuffs. Lozman was charged with disorderly conduct, trespassing and resisting arrest without violence, but Palm Beach County prosecutors ultimately dropped the case.

    Lozman seeks unspecified damages in the civil rights case, including compensation for his floating home. He also says he incurred $250,000 in legal fees and costs in the long appellate fight.

    The city contends he should again get nothing. Its lawyers say there’s no evidence the city ever had a formal policy to harass or intimidate him and that it was Dimitrouleas who approved the floating home’s sale and destruction.

    “A municipality should not be held liable for actions over which it was no control,” the Riviera Beach attorneys said in court papers.

    A hearing is set for May 19 that will determine whether the case ends or proceeds to trial, which would take place in October. Lozman is now living with his dog and cat on a larger, two-story floating home near Miami, but is determined to see through the case related to his previous dwelling.

    “A jury is going to need to determine the value of my floating home,” he said.