Miami Beach Commissioner Michael Grieco resigns amid campaign financial scandal

Grieco pleads no contest to accepting campaign contribution in name of another

By Amanda Batchelor - Senior Digital Editor, Paradise Afshar - Digital Editor, Madeleine Wright - Reporter

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. - Miami Beach Commissioner Michael Grieco has vowed to continue advocating for his community, although he stepped down from his position Tuesday amid a campaign financial scandal. 

Miami Beach spokeswoman Tonya Daniels said Grieco submitted his resignation letter via email Tuesday morning. 

"Effective immediately, I tender my resignation as Group 2 Commissioner for the remaining two weeks of my term. Serving our Great City of Miami Beach has been my greatest honor," Grieco wrote. "Thank you for giving me that opportunity. When I began my service as Miami Beach Commissioner in 2013, my paramount goal was to leave Miami Beach in a better condition than when I started.

"I am confident I have done that, and more. I have always done my best. I hope you will agree, and will find the time to work with me in my private life, as I continue to find creative ways to make Miami Beach the BEST city in the Sunshine State and beyond."

Grieco appeared in court Tuesday morning after submitting his resignation letter, where he pleaded no contest to accepting a campaign contribution through a straw donor, which is a first-degree misdemeanor. 

He was sentenced to a year of probation. 

The Miami Herald reported that Grieco's financial scandal is connected to the political action committee, People for Better Leaders, which raised $200,000 last year.

The PAC collects donations from vendors, lobbyists and developers.

Grieco's lawyer said his client never intended to have any unauthorized contributions from a committee and that all contributions were returned. 

"When it became apparent that two friends of Mr. Grieco failed to follow the law, Mr. Grieco acted to promptly, even though he had accepted these contributions, set out to right that wrong. Today's resolution closes out that chapter," Grieco's defense attorney, Ben Kuehne, said. 

Grieco addressed the Miami Beach community ahead of his court hearing in an open letter to the public. 

"I am writing to you today as just Mike, your friend, neighbor and fellow resident," the former commissioner wrote. "Initially, I wanted to let you know that my family and I are well and we are not going anywhere. I will remain your voice when needed, and your eyes and ears in perpetuity. Although my time as your current commissioner has drawn to a close, my time as your advocate has not."

Grieco said he is thankful for those who have stood by him during the scandal. 

"For my supporters and friends, I want to send you all a heartfelt thank you, especially for those who have stood closely by me these last few weeks and months," Grieco wrote in his letter. "Times have been somewhat challenging lately, but I can assure you that my family and I are looking forward to the next chapters."

Grieco said he plans to enjoy some rest and relaxation with his family and refocus his energy into his law practice and philanthropy. 

He said he will also be providing pro bono governmental consulting services "to select disenfranchised residents, neighborhood associations and non-profit organizations who need assistance navigating Miami Beach City Hall."

Grieco may be banned from running for office for one year, and will be asked to pay the costs associated with the state attorney's public corruption investigation. 

The commissioner was once an assistant attorney and was investigated by the same office he once worked for. 

Still, the commissioner wrote in his letter that he is proud of the work he did while in office.

"I am proud of my time in office and I am proud to have been considered by many as the hardest working commissioner on the dais," Grieco said. "I leave behind a legacy of environmental reforms, a robust Park Ranger Program, a widely popular Memorial Day Air and Sea Show, protections against overdevelopment, lower taxes, the LGBTQ Safe Place Initiative, and a litany of quality of life protections that make Miami Beach such a great place to live."

Read full letter by Commissioner Michael Grieco:

Dear Friend,

I am writing to you today as just Mike, your friend, neighbor and fellow resident. Initially I wanted to let you know that my family and I are well and we are not going anywhere. I will remain your voice when needed, and your eyes and ears in perpetuity. Although my time as your current Commissioner has drawn to a close, my time as your advocate has not. 
 
For my supporters and friends, I want to send you all a heartfelt thank you, especially for those who have stood closely by me these last few weeks and months. Times have been somewhat challenging lately, but I can assure you that my family and I are looking forward to the next chapters. In addition to finally relenting to a Disney annual pass and maybe eventually a real vacation, I can now redirect some of my public service energies back into my law practice and philanthropy, and also spend even more time with Christine and Super J. Soon I will be transitioning my civil and criminal trial practice physically back to Miami Beach, but with a new wrinkle: I will also be providing pro bono governmental consulting services to select disenfranchised residents, neighborhood associations and non-profit organizations who need assistance navigating Miami Beach City Hall. Our relationship with you and the City may be different in a formal way, but the emotional commitment will not be changing when it comes to protecting and improving our quality of life as a community. Whether or not I am in office, I will still be on the front lines against the next Floatopia, the next Naled/Zika crisis or the next time someone tries to wedge a train down Main Street. I will obviously also remain steadfast in the fight against the predatory violent element that has unfortunately made Miami Beach unsafe.

Moving forward I worry that there will be too few voices in city hall that are honest and strong, and the few good ones who remain are being silenced by special interests, power players and transactional politics. I worry that most of those making decisions are so far removed from the street and real life that they do not understand the true heart of our city and the real needs of the collective. Through my extensive social media and email reach, I will obviously continue to serve, but I will also encourage dialogue amongst residents and the perpetual questioning of our elected and appointed leaders when appropriate. Many have asked me to chime in regarding the 2017 election and I may do so next week, but for now I will simply ask that you educate yourself and vote.

I am proud of my time in office and I am proud to have been considered by many as the hardest working Commissioner on the dais. I leave behind a legacy of environmental reforms, a robust Park Ranger Program, a widely popular Memorial Day Air and Sea Show, protections against overdevelopment, lower taxes, the LGBTQ Safe Place Initiative, and a litany of quality of life protections that make Miami Beach such a great place to live. 

Thank you for allowing me to serve, but please know that I will not stop doing so. A select few were hoping that somehow I would disappear or press mute, but I can assure you that the opposite will be the case. I love our City too much to retreat from being the advocate many of you count on.


Sincerely,

Michael Grieco
  


 

 

 

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