Joe Sanchez, James Reyes raise the most funds for Miami-Dade sheriff’s race

A forum for the candidates is scheduled Wednesday

Two of the 17 candidates for Miami-Dade sheriff — who have all been invited to a forum on Wednesday — have out-fundraised the rest by leaps and bounds, and they are exactly who everyone expected to lead the money race.

Democrat James Reyes, the Miami-Dade director of public safety, has raised close to $400,000 between his campaign account and his political action committee, while Republican Joe Sanchez, a Florida Highway Patrol officer and former Miami City commissioner, raised just a little more, with XX $415,000, according to the latest campaign finance reports.

But they also show that Reyes, who has the endorsement of Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, had more cash on hand as of March 31 when you count the contributions to the campaign accounts. Reyes reported raising $90,050 while Sanchez reported $85,957 in his account.

In hand, Reyes had almost $327,000 while Sanchez had less than $290,000 in the bank.

The bulk of the contributions were reported in their respective PACs.

Read related: Joe Sanchez could join clown car of Miami-Dade sheriff candidates for 2024

Sanchez has Law and Order, which reported $126,500 in the first quarter of the year for a total of $329,300. The biggest contribution is $25,000 from retired attorney and investor David Flory, a Miami Beach resident who also once gifted $500K to the renovation of the Wright Memorial Library in his hometown of Oakwood, Ohio. After that, developer and luxury auto magnate Manny Kadre gave $20,000. The other big donors, each with $10K, are:

  • Developer Armando Codina
  • Attorney Richard Schulze
  • Real estate investor Moshe Popack
  • Gasoline mogul and developer Max Alvarez
  • Lobbyist Brian May
  • Attorney Richard Cole, senior partner at Cole, Scott and Kissane in Kendall
  • Coastland Properties, which purchased a $38 million development site in Doral last year

The operators of the Bayshore Drive marina and Mocca Realty each gave $7,500, loan provider Bernie Navarro gave $6,000, car mogul Mario Murgado, former Miami City Manager Joe Arriola, electrical contractor Hector Ortiz and Versailles owner Felipe Valls each gave $5,000, lobbyist and developer Ralph Garcia Toledo gave $4,000, Coral Gables Mayor Vince Lago gave $2,500 from his PAC and his pal, former Coral Gables Commissioner Frank Quesada, gave $2,500, too.

The bulk of the Sanchez PAC expenses, and it has spent more than $115,000, have been for campaign consultant Jesse Manzano and advertising consultant Daniel Bustamante, whose Artisan Agency worked with Miami Mayor Francis Suarez to create the “How can I help?” NFT collection. How’s that going? He’s also paid a lot of commission to fundraising consultant Brian Goldmeier, who is raking it in this year.

Reyes had a better quarter with his PAC, Miami-Dade Safe and Secure, which reported $285,000 in contributions. That’s almost three times as much as was raised in all of last year. The PAC had $87,250 when it was going to work for former Miami-Dade Police Director Freddy Ramirez, whose unfortunate suicide attempt last August forced him to drop out of the race.

His biggest PAC contributors are Levine Cava, who gave $50,000 from her PAC, Our Democracy, and Broward First PAC, which gave $50,000.

Read related: Miami-Dade Sheriff’s race expands with Dem Broward candidate James Reyes

There are a bunch of Democratic Party PACs contributing. And, because Reyes has spent almost his entire professional life in Broward, there are also a bunch of Broward Sheriff’s Office deputies and employees. Among those who gave generously:

  • Jose Vasquez, senior specialist at L3Harris Technologies gave $25,000.
  • Lewis Stahl, owner of NextGen Management, a medical technology company, who was ordered to federal prison in 2019 following his conviction for evading millions of dollars in personal income taxes, gave $25,000. He is also vice chairman of the Broward Sheriff’s Advisory Council.
  • Maurice Vaughn, owner of The Kid’s Academy, gave $24,000
  • Matthew Hall of EMCI Wireless in Sebring, FL, gave $10,000.
  • New Jersey developer Michael Fux (great name) gave $10,000.
  • Real estate broker Monica Veiga gave $10,000 (so did someone named Giovanni Veiga).
  • Geno Reofaro, CEO of SaferWatch, an app that works with law enforcement, gave $10,000.
  • Lobbyist Ron Book gave $5,000.

Most of the PAC’s $126,468 in expenses is for campaign consultant Christian Ulvert, communications consultant Claire VanSusteren and fundraising consultant Gregory Goddard.

Because Democrat Ricky Mitchell, a retired police officer turned funeral director, loaned himself $275,000 of the $292K he’s raised (meaning he has really only raised $17,000), the other top fundraisers in the race are all Republican:

  • Miami-Dade Police Maj. Jose Aragu reported raising $137,000
  • Attorney Ignacio Alvarez, a retired Miami-Dade Police major, reported raising $214,000
  • Miami-Dade Police Assistant Director Rosanna “Rosie” Cordero-Stutz reported raising $166,000.
  • Retired Miami-Dade Police Maj. Mario Knapp reported raising $260,000
  • Former Police Benevolent Association President John Rivera, a retired Miami-Dade Police officer, reported raising $143,000
  • Miami-Dade Police Department Lt. Ernesto Rodriguez raised $175,000

A group called Citizens Defending Freedom have invited all candidates to a forum from 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday at the Wilde Community Center in Hialeah, 1701 W 53rd Terr.