2020 campaign funding could be under scrutiny by the Miami-Dade SAO
She wasn’t just drinking and driving on the job. She wasn’t just running personal errands for Miami Commissioner Alex Diaz de la Portilla instead of working as a community liaison for the Omni Community Redevelopment Agency. She wasn’t just stealing taxpayer dollars for an undeserved, unearned $45,000-a-year salary.
Longtime DLP lacky Jenny Nillo — who was investigated last year for being a ghost employee — was also campaigning for her boss’ baby brother, Renier Diaz de la Portilla, in his 2020 campaign for county commission in District 5 against Miami-Dade Commissioner Eileen Higgins.
While she was on the job.
According to multiple sources close to the investigation, Nillo was picking up campaign checks for Baby DLP — who is now running for judge — when she was supposed to be working for the CRA. Those were among the “personal errands” she ran for her shadow boss, Diaz de la Portilla. Several people have reported seeing her city car at a Miami Beach elderly housing complex during early voting.
Commissioner Joe Carollo said at a city committee meeting in March of last year — when he and ADLP were pointing fingers at each other — that Nillo showed up to his home in July 2020 to deliver checks for Renier’s failed commission campaign. Carollo was buying Renier’s media. He had no idea she was a CRA employee, he said.
Perhaps the reason Nillo wasn’t charged with anything — not drinking and driving, not theft for stealing taxpayer dollars, not even a probation violation from her unrelated, earlier mortgage fraud charge — is that she is cooperating with authorities investigating Renier DLP’s 2020 campaign finances.
In the recently released audio recording of the interview that Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigators had with Nillo in March of last year, they ask if she knows of any political corruption going on. She says she doesn’t but then offers herself up as an informant.
“I can inquire to see what’s going on,” she says.
They had her dead to rights. But she can be bait for a bigger fish. And two sources told Ladra that investigators are looking into Renier Diaz de la Portilla’s 2020 commission campaign.
Baby DLP was at the CRA office in 2020 more than Nillo was. He was seen at meeting after meeting with his big brother, then chasing whoever met with the commissioner to the elevator to ask for a check. One then CRA staffer told Ladra it was “blatant.”
His campaign raised a total of $758,950 and ADLP’s political action committee, Proven Leadership for Miami-Dade, raised another half million during that 2020 election cycle. Investigators are looking at connections between those checks and CRA or city business. At least $50,000 came from MasTec, the company owned by Jorge Mas, who got ADLP’s positive vote in April on the Miami Freedom Park lease.
Local Leadership for Miami-Dade — Baby DLP’s PAC with just one word in the name different — raised another $800,000, including $170,000 in four separate contributions from a company called Pristine De Llc — ironic name — that couldn’t be found in the Florida Department of Corporations, and that lists the same address as attorney Bill Riley, who also got Alex Diaz de la Portilla’s vote on giving away Biscayne Park to his client, Centner Academy.
The same mysterious entity contributed $25,000 to the Proven Leadership PAC — which paid Nillo $6,250 in “wages” in October 2020.
Riley — who traveled with Alex Diaz de la Portilla to Boston last month — is also son of William Riley, the longtime business manager at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. And Riley junior is chairing the fundraising committee for Renier’s current judicial race.
The Miami Herald only posted about four minutes of the Nillo interview and she did not talk about Renier’s campaign. But Ladra was told the full recording is more like 30 minutes and is waiting to get a copy.
Political Cortadito broke most of this more than a year ago, the first to publish the news that Nillo had been pulled over while driving a city car drunk and delivering DLP’s dry cleaning. She had been tailed for a few days in response to a claim that she was not really working for the CRA.
But there are some new, emerging details. And as The Dean taught us long ago: Details matter.
The just released case file shows that Nillo was followed on several days, and that investigators watched as she stopped at gas station convenience stores and purchased alcohol — up to five beers in one day — and drank it while she was driving around in the city car. Her preferred brand: Modelo.
Only on the sixth day, when she purchased tequila and wine and four Coca-Colas — What? No rum? — at Jensen’s Liquors and then disappeared into ADLP’s home for an hour, did they think to stop her before she hurt somebody.
It also reveals that they put a GPS tracker on the vehicle, which means they may have a record of where she went to pick up checks. Ladra has asked for a full accounting of every address recorded. And every photograph taken.
There has to be a reason why Nillo is still working on the public’s dime, as a commission aide now in ADLP’s office, making $40K a year. She was drinking and driving on the job. She went and got her nails done. She hung out with her son and friends. She went to voters’ homes, at ADLP’s instruction, to get them to rescind the Carollo recall petitions. Alex Diaz de la Portilla said as much at that March 2021 commission meeting.
Other city employees have been fired for much less. So the likelihood that she’s cooperating is large.
If not, then someone should start tailing her again. She could be picking up checks these days for Renier’s new campaign for county judge.