MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, FLORIDA — On Thursday, January 5, ten current and former Miami-Dade Democrats sent a letter to Florida Democratic Party Chairman, Manny Diaz, claiming local party leaders mismanaged funds and broke party rules. The letter alleges that Robert Dempster, the chair of the Miami-Dade Democratic Party, violated campaign finance laws and failed to complete annual audits.
High-ranking current and former officials who signed the letter include former Miami-Dade Democratic Chairman Juan Cuba, former Pinecrest Mayor Cindy Lerner, Chair of the Miami-Dade Hispanic Caucus Eleazar Melendez and former State Sen. Robert Asencio. The group is calling on Dempster to resign his position amid claims that his poor management contributed to conflict among members of the local party – leading to the dismal outcome of recent elections.
According to the letter, the Florida Democratic Party made a contribution to a City of Miami commission candidate early last year, two months after the candidate lost his election. It also states that experienced party members have been “shut out” – leading to inexperienced leadership that could damage Democrats’ influence in upcoming local races.
“As longtime DEC members, we are appalled by this level of amateurishness in campaign reporting but not surprised as it is indicative of the type of operation being run, or lack thereof,” the letter states. “Despite our DEC having a strong track record of winning local and state elections, we have not won a single race under Chair Dempster.”
In a statement to the Miami Herald, Dempster said, “this is a sad effort by a small group of Democrats, some of whom had been so disengaged from the party that they actually had to reapply from membership, who are upset about their personal defeats in local party elections.”
According to the letter, Dempster told party members that an audit is underway. Still, the group alleges a “pattern of obfuscation.” The group said they would bring the issue before the Florida Elections Commission and the Miami-Dade County Inspector General if an audit is not completed by January 20.
“Our sincere hope is that there was no illegal campaign activity during his tenure, but if this audit finds wrongdoing, we demand you to take immediate action in suspending and removing Robert Dempster as DEC Chair,” the letter states.
UPCOMING DEMOCRATIC LEADERSHIP MEETING
Nearly two months after Florida Democrats were largely defeated in the 2022 election cycle, the party is scheduled to hold a state-wide executive committee meeting in Maitland on January 21. But despite criticism during and after the general election, Florida Democratic Party Chair Manny Diaz made it clear that he doesn’t intend to step down.
In a statement sent to party leaders last November following the general election, Diaz said: “I joined you in this mission to reverse the trends of the past 10–20 years. I am still committed to that end and refuse to give up when the going gets tough. That is not in my nature. I will continue to fight alongside you for the next two years and beyond.”
Politico reports that a Democratic operative recently said, “I think a lot of people are concerned that we can’t just keep churning through leadership.”