Commissioner stands by deceitful flyer attacking Miami-Dade’s 1st Haitian-American judge

Candidate’s brother, a Miami public official, is behind misleading propaganda

A Miami-Dade candidate's brother and county commissioner said he stands behind a flyer that is attacking an incumbent with lies.

MIAMI – A recent political flyer distributed in Miami-Dade County epitomized the meaning of a published “hit piece.” Even more embarrassingly, it included a typo. Instead of “public,” the author wrote “pubic.”

The flyer’s content is peppered with lies. The author falsely accuses Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Fred Seraphin of refusing to “release his arrest record” and of having a “criminal past.”

To support the misleading “criminal past” allegation, the author of the flyer twisted the context of an old news report and likely banked on no one actually looking it up and reading it.

What the journalist actually wrote in that report is that as a college student Seraphin was the victim of racial profiling when he was arrested and falsely accused.

Seraphin was released and prosecutors never charged him with a crime. He was innocent and he has referred to the experience in public as the impetus of his distinguished legal career.

It’s a story that former Gov. Jeb Bush knew well when he appointed Seraphin in 2001 as Miami-Dade County’s first Haitian-American judge. He is running for the County Court Group five nonpartisan race.

Seraphin’s opponent on the ballot is Renier Diaz De La Portilla, who was admitted to the Florida Bar in 2007 and served as a member of the Miami-Dade School Board and a former state representative.

De La Portilla’s well-known Cuban-American brothers are Miguel, a former Florida senator, and Alex, a Miami commissioner who admitted to being behind the information on the flyer.

The Proven Leadership for Miami-Dade, a Political Action Committee based in the south Dadeland area, funded the deceitful propaganda. It’s the sort of behavior the Florida Supreme Court’s Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee frowns upon.

The PAC’s campaign finance records go back to 2018 with expenditures that as of July 15 added up to more than $1.6 million. That same PAC funded a mailer that Renier Diaz De La Portilla used while campaigning for Miami-Dade District 5 commission seat in 2020.

In that “looters, vandals and agitators have invaded our streets” mailer, the PAC was accused of misusing a Miami Herald-owned photograph by Al Diaz without permission. It showed a Black Lives Matter protester who was standing against the killing of George Floyd.

Diaz De La Portilla lost that election.

The next primary election is on Aug. 23 and the general election is on Nov. 8. For voter assistance, call The Florida Division of Elections at 1-866-308-6739.

Watch the latest episode of This Week in South Florida

On the latest episode of This Week in South Florida, hosts Glenna Milberg and Michael Putney welcome Miami-Dade School Board members Marta Perez and Dr. Steve Gallon, Miami Commissioner Ken Russell, professor and political analyst Sean Forman and attorney and legal analyst Gail Levine.

About the Authors:

Glenna Milberg joined Local 10 News in September 1999 to report on South Florida's top stories and community issues. She also serves as co-host on Local 10's public affairs broadcast, "This Week in South Florida."

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.