Ethics board: Miami Commissioner ADLP abused his power with city car

The Miami-Dade Ethics Commission has unanimously found probable cause that Miami Commissioner Alex Diaz de la Portilla exploited his office and abused his power to provide Jenny Nillo — a longtime friend he gave a no-show job to at the OMNI Community Redevelopment Agency — with a city car.

Kinda anticlimactic ain’t it? The car certainly seems like just a scratch on the surface.

Nillo was under surveillance for weeks at the beginning of the year after internal affairs was tipped off that she was ditching her “work” at the CRA and using the city car as a personal vehicle. The city eventually turned the investigation over to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which stopped Nillo after they witnessed her drinking and picking up tequila and wine to take to Diaz de la Portilla’s residence on South River Drive.

“The traffic stop conducted of Ms. Nillo was for public safety reasons,” the report states. An investigator explained that “they had already observed Ms. Nillo consuming alcohol that day; they saw her go into the liquor store and purchase more alcohol, and then go into the apartment for three hours. He stated that, ‘we could make a pretty good assumption that she may have continued to drink, and it was just too dangerous for public safety, that we needed to stop her.

Yeah, and she wasn’t a city employee so she wasn’t supposed to be driving a city car. Nillo was never given a Breathalyzer test or charged with DUI.

Read related: Alex Diaz de la Portilla is investigated on ghost city employee at Omni CRA

The investigative report released Wednesday makes it clear that Nillo knew she was a CRA employee and was not a city employee, so she couldn’t drive a city car. It confirms that Nillo — who also used the car to go to her son’s school and hang out with friends — used that car to run errands for the commissioner. Dropped off his dry cleaning. Picked up his booze. Dropped groceries off at his parents’ house. Drove them to appointments.

She must have been good at it. Because she consistently got raises when nobody else at the CRA got one, and her salary went from $45,000 a year to $53,000 a year — in a year.

Nillo even drove out to the DLP family farm on Krome Avenue a couple times, once with former chief of staff Alex Barrera, who knew it wasn’t kosher.

“He said that the property is located outside of Miami’s city limits and that no city business would be conducted there,” the report states. “He stated that in his opinion it would be improper for a city employee to assist with any private business taking place at the property with the use of city time or vehicles.” 

The complaint also states that the other two cars assigned to ADLP’s District 1 office were assigned to his other two longtime lackeys, Anabel Castillo and Julio Guillen. All three have worked for the Diaz de la Portillas for decades. Nillo worked for big brother Miguel Diaz de la Portilla when he was a county commissioner. Castillo worked for MDLP when he was a senator. Guillen works with all of them on whatever needs to get done.

The investigative report states that the city car was given to Nillo after she had trouble with her own personal vehicle. So it’s just a coincidence that the three vehicles assigned to District 1 are assigned to the three DLP lackeys? To the inner circle? To the people who worked on brother Renier Diaz de la Portilla‘s two failed political campaigns?

Read related: Jenny Nillo campaigned for Renier Diaz de la Portilla while on the public job

Yeah, but she wasn’t a city employee so she wasn’t supposed to be driving a city car.

The Dean tried to separate himself even from that, by saying that he did not run his district office and was not in charge of who got what car. “I don’t know who authorized it. I don’t know when she started. I don’t know,” he told investigators.

“I do not run the fleet in the city of Miami,” Diaz de la Portilla texted Ladra Wednesday.

There’s not much else that’s new in the report released Thursday by the Ethics Commission. But it does have confirmation from several of ADLP’s District 1 staffers about Nillo’s undefined role. Jason Walker, former executive director of the CRA — who was forced out after this — said he was told to hire Nillo and that she did not go through the competitive process that other employees must go through.

Read related: Miami Commissioner cleans house at Omni CRA after his crony is kicked out

Walker was also told to create a new position that didn’t exist before for the commissioner’s longtime lackey.

Isn’t that also an abuse of DLP’s office?

Yeah, but she wasn’t supposed to be driving a city car.

And while Diaz de la Portilla told Ladra when Political Cortadito first exposed the ghost employee that he had Nillo hired at the CRA to be his eyes and ears, to watch shenanigans he suspected there, she said nothing about that. Nobody else said anything about that. And DLP denied it in a sworn statement.

“Comm. ADLP acknowledged he never expressed concerns about improprieties or corruption at the Omni CRA with Jenny Nillo at the time she was hired at that agency. He further indicated that she never reported any such misconduct to him,” the report states.

He gave her the job because she lost hers in the pandemic and she needs to be employed per her parole conditions, related to her felony arrest and time served for mortgage fraud. And so she can do his bidding. That’s probably why, after she was fired from the CRA because she never worked there, Diaz de la Portilla hired her in his district office where she still works.

Some of the surveillance photos of Jenny Nillo drinking and driving in a city of Miami car.

Wonder if Nillo still drives a city car. It would be okay, now, however. Since she is a city employee.

But is she still drinking and driving?

The city has a real liability on its hands here, having a known alcoholic who drinks on the job and behind the wheel working in a city position. Who knows what kind of mess she can make? Did Jenny lose those COVID relief gift cards that nobody can account for? Can she be trusted with anything?

This is just part of what will be released in coming days, which includes more photographs, videos and the complete statements by everyone interviewed, including the commissioner himself.

When reached by Ladra late Wednesday, Diaz de la Portilla staunchly denied any wrongdoing. He’s good at it. He’s practiced. “They have nothing because nothing happened,” he texted Ladra Wednesday evening.

Read related: Omni CRA ghost employee fired, could be rehired by Commissioner ADLP

“We win this hands down because it’s all made up. That is why I was cleared by four entities already,” he said, even though he insisted before that he was not even being investigated. “Just because you retell a lie over and over again it is still not the truth.”

And then he does just that.

“I will continue my service to the public interest by always focusing on the needs of the residents of our city,” he texted, in what seemed like a prepared response to the ethics panel’s decision.

“Today’s baseless and politically motivated findings of probable cause will not deter my commitment to public service. The one-sided consideration by this commission through kangaroo procedures, during which I was not permitted to participate in its statements and information gathering, was not based on an accurate or objective presentation of the truth. I have challenged the commission’s investigation, and only now will I have an opportunity to present the actual truth and cross examine the purveyors of falsehoods. This commission is wasting taxpayer resources to bring this case in what I have no doubt will ultimately prove to be unfounded when all is said and done.

“I intend to prevail in this unfair attack on my integrity from down political enemies after my many ears of proven and well known commitment to public service.”

He did not provide any details on who those political enemies might be.

Ethics board says Miami Commissioner Alex Diaz de la Portilla abused his power by Political Cortadito on Scribd