Outrageous! Any Politician Who Lies Can Get Fined In Miami



Sam Fields


In case you missed it, Hialeah Mayor Carlos Hernandez, who was hit with a $4000 fine by the Miami-Dade County Ethics Commission for lying at a press conference, attempted to pay it recently with pennies and nickels.

The Commission refused that form of payment as impractical if not contemptuous.

All lovers of the First Amendment should be equally contemptuous…of the Commission.

Ten years ago Hernandez loaned money to a Ponzi schemer named Luis Felipe Perez charging him 36% interest…incidentally a violation of Florida’s usury laws.

On October 13, 2011 Hernandez held a press conference in which he told the public in English and Spanish that any repayments from Perez were just a return on principal and not interest.

In April 2014 Hernandez was testifying in Federal court at the trial of former Hialeah Mayor Julio Robaina.  He was asked about the Perez payments.  Under oath, he admitted that he had received more than a $100,000 in interest payments from Perez.

For a number of years Miami-Dade has had a Citizen’s Bill of Rights which in part says:

Truth in Government. No County or municipal official or employee shall knowingly furnish false information on any public matter, nor knowingly omit significant facts when giving requested information to members of the public.

Based on his court testimony, a citizen filed a complaint solely because he lied at the press conference.

The Commission case boiled down to this:

At a news conference, Hernandez said he wasn’t paid interest.  In a courtroom, Hernandez swore that he was paid interest.

He obviously lied.

The Commission fined him $3000….for having “knowingly” furnished “false information…to members of the public.”

In a Miami-Dade quirk, The Commission also hit him twice for investigative costs — $500 for lying in English and another $500 for lying in Spanish.  Luckily for Hernandez he does not also speak Creole or Yiddish.

Even if Hernandez lied through his teeth in Urdu, it is clear that his speech, and a lot worse jabbering by public officials, is protected by The First Amendment.

The case on point is The United States v Alvarez,  a 2012 Supreme Court decision.

In 2006, President George W. Bush signed into law The Stolen Valor Act which made it a crime to lie about military service or awards for military service.

In 2007,  Xavier Alvarez was elected to the Three Valley Water District Board of Claremont, California. At his first meeting he described his twenty-five years of service in the Marines. He went on to tell how he won a Purple Heart and The Medal of Honor in Vietnam.

Oops! None of it was true.

Alvarez was arrested, prosecuted and convicted for violating the Stolen Valor Act.  He appealed, and in a 6 to 3 decision the Supreme Court overturned his conviction.

The majority was not unified in their reasoning for overturning the law.  But in plain English, the common thread was that, without some sort of intent to defraud for financial gain, Alvarez was nothing more than a “bullshiter” and “bullshit” is protected by the First Amendment.

The following year The Stolen Valor Act was amended to require the element of fraud in any future prosecutions.

Which brings me back to Mayor Hernandez and why he completely mishandled his case.

From what I have learned, Hernandez did little to fight the charges. Under the Alvarez case, he would have been vindicated and, per Florida law, awarded attorney’s fees.

Had the Ethics Commission ignored the law and fined him it would have almost certainly been reversed.  I believe The Court of Appeals would have concluded that punishment for politicians who “bullshit” is not to be found in a Court of Law. It is to be found in the “Court of Public Opinion” where, through recall or at the next election, “throwing the bums out” is the only Constitutional remedy.

And that’s no “bull”!


12 Responses to “Outrageous! Any Politician Who Lies Can Get Fined In Miami”

  1. tom lubart says:

    you can also mention that fox news used the defense of “we have the right to lie” in a court case.

  2. City Activist Robert Walsh says:

    I’m glad he was fined. Also his payment w/ pennies etc. was also assine(going around). Paying a dept.like that is not acceptable. I think they call that paying w/ reasonable commercial payment(currency) etc. In other words a business, agency etc. does not have to take that form of cuurency(yes). Being a wise guy and it back fired. The part about lying same thing w/ Ben Carson. Saying he beat his mother w/ a hammer, to hitting some one w/ a lock, what he wants us to think he was a thug(I don’t get it), then he lies about being accepted to WestPoint. Then to top it off he blames the media???Wait for the clinch, the cherry on top ,stated the burden of proof is on you(journalist-noooo you lied and got caught). Unreal same w/ this bozo….(hang in there people, keep th e phone calls coming, the emails flowin, Robert Walsh(pushin fifty)-and to some of you whores out there-be careful w. me I’m watchin you)….

  3. Count LF Chodkiewicz Chudzikiewicz says:

    Counsellor Fields seems to be unaware of libel slander n you cant scream Fire ! in a crowded theatre – or dont these crimes exist because they fit his understanding of free speech? No wonder we have a right wing Republican Governor State Senate n House n losing Statewide races because the left wing in the Democratic Party are what used be known as Space Cadets

  4. Sam The Sham says:

    Wow! Hillary! better stay out of Miami or she will be bankrupted by all her lies.

    I can see the commission charging to investigate Hernandez’s speech in English, after all there are costs to translate it into the common language of Miami, ie. Spanish. I wonder what the other $500 was for?

    There is a real push for cameras on every cop. I think public money would be better spent on putting cameras on all the politicians. I trust cops a lot more than I trust politicians. This way we could check all their lies, and see who they get bribes from and when they do deals behind our backs or public business in secret.

  5. J. J. Vazquez says:

    The Miami Ethics Commission is trying for a perfect world where nobody lies or shades the truth. It has never existed in government, campaigns or life itself. If this law was the law of the land, the entire field of presidential candidates would be fined. They all shade the truth like Hillary or outright lie like Rubio and Carson. The public will see through them in the end.

  6. GOPapa says:

    It violated the First Amendment. Enough said. Candidates have a First Amendment Right to lie. They can not cheat or steal until they are in office and don’t get caught. They can lie all the time and almost every candidate takes advantage of this right.

  7. Kevin Hill says:

    This is a bit off topic, but here goes:

    Is not a fine paid to a government entity a “public debt” and therefore can be paid with any legal tender? Including pennies and nickels? Heck, three cent pieces from the 1860s are still legal tender….

    I mean, I DO KNOW that you could not pull that sort of stunt at Wal-Mart since they are a private business (unless they agreed to take payment in that form), but to pay a government fine?

    PS: I reluctantly agree with Sam. As long as the speech is not under oath, it is a First Amendment right to lie. It’s stupid and disgusting, but there have been USSC decisions on this even before they overturned the Stolen Valor Act.


  8. SAM FIELDS says:

    There are numerous laws that allow persons, companies and governments refuse payment when it would be burdensome.

    If the feds had to take pennies I would not want to work at the IRS.

    I don’t know if it is an urban legend, but supposedly only in one state are pennies acceptable payment.

    Guess which one.

  9. Chaz Stevens, MAOS says:

    Back in the day, former City Manager Jon Allen was being a real dick about public records.

    For instance, he wanted nearly $90 for a copy of just-fired Marie Elianor’s resume and application.

    $90 for 6 sheets of paper.

    So, to protest, I paid for a $18 records request using pennies sent via UPS to the Clerk (cost me $30 to make that point).

    Shortly thereafter, the City passed the Chaz ordinance making only paper money (cash, checks) acceptable payment.

    But I got my point across.


    By the way, Elianor has ZERO previous experience as a Finance Director, never balanced the cash out once in her 3+ year tenure, and was slammed time and again by the year end auditors.

  10. Chaz Stevens, MAOS says:

    >> you can also mention that fox news used the defense of “we have the right to lie” in a court case.

    As much as I detest Fox News as any sensible person should, that’s not true. Urban myth.

  11. Ha Ha Ha says:

    No County or municipal official or employee shall knowingly furnish false information on any public matter, nor knowingly omit significant facts when giving requested information to members of the public.

    This is a regulation of the conduct of employees. County officials and municipal officials are employees of the public, thus the public has the well-recognized employer’s right to control the way employees conduct themselves when performing official business.

    Because this regulation applies only within the special context of paid employment, it does not violate the First Amendment.

  12. Count LF Chodkiewicz Chudzikiewicz says:

    I guess Mr Ha Ha never met any member of any Miami Beach City or Broward County Commission because neither group is aware of this regulation.