Miami-Dade judge to decide whether to force county to put item on November ballot

Item would allow voters to block lobbyists, vendors from donating to candidates


MIAMI – A push to limit campaign contributions from people who profit from Miami-Dade County is now in the hands of a judge after a spirited one-hour hearing Thursday.

Miami-Dade Circuit Judge William Thomas will decide whether to force the county commission to place on the November ballot a question that would let voters block county lobbyists, vendors and their families from donating to candidates for county office.

A group called Accountable Miami-Dade collected and delivered a sufficient number of signatures that would qualify the item for the ballot, but Miami-Dade County commissioners voted 9-4 Wednesday to reject it.

Under fire for stopping a process that would affect their own campaign donations, a majority of commissioners called the ballot item misleading and legally insufficient.

In court Thursday, the attorney for Accountable Miami-Dade argued the commission had no standing to block the process under the county charter.

The county's attorney countered that the ballot question as written does not meet a legal standard and would mislead voters.

Thomas said he will rule "soon."

"Don't rush me," he said as he left the bench. 

The attorneys acknowledged that the judge's ruling, whichever way it goes, will likely be appealed.

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