One of the candidates for the Miramar election has created a path of political deception, so much so that he has been fined to the tune of almost half a million dollars.
Mayoral challenger Josue Larose describes himself as “an intellectual and an economic elite.” He was dubbed “the PAC Man” by the media after he filed fraudulent campaign financial reports for more than 300 political action committees. He is now running against the incumbent, Miramar Mayor Wayne Messam in the March 12 election.
Larose has set up more than 40 minority political parties and ran for several state and national elections including the 2018 gubernatorial election and 2016 presidential election. At one point he ran for three offices at once.
The Florida Elections Commission found Larose guilty of more than 2,000 counts of election violations in 2012. Because of Larose, the Florida Legislature had to set up stricter requirements for starting parties. He was even the focus of a 2012 comedic segment on “The Colbert Report,” where comedian Stephen Colbert called in the cast of Animal Planet’s “Finding Big Foot” to help find Larose. Yet, he was still able to make it on the ballot for the Miramar election.
“A Larose by any other name smells like a mystery,” said Colbert in the segment.
Florida Department of State spokeswoman Sarah Revell said Larose had to qualify with the Broward County Supervisor of Elections office in order to run for mayor. Larose qualified to run for mayor on Jan. 8, the last day to do so.
No one could be reached at the Broward elections office for immediate response.
According to the elections commission’s final order, Larose reported millions of dollars in monetary contributions from nonexistent donors; reported deposits for nonexistent accounts; falsely accused the Division of Elections of attempting to extort more than $10,000 from him, among several other violations. The elections commission cases filed against Larose have hundreds of pages. He was fined around $513,000, according to Florida Elections Commission agency clerk, Donna Malphurs.
According to Larose, he has the governmental experience and qualifications to make Miramar, “one of the largest cities and the beautiful cities in America.”
He plans on creating 25,000 new jobs every year in the city for residents and create a better life for families and seniors.
Larose said that he has been living in the city for three years. The address on his elections documents on Google Maps leads to Melrose Point at Monarch Lakes Condominium, but a leasing agent said the address does not fall in the complex.
The 37-year-old man said that he has a bachelor’s degree in economics from Yale University, a master’s degree in business administration from Princeton University and a doctorate in political science from Harvard University.
According to Larose, he is currently the president of the Miramar Chamber of Commerce, World Multi-Billion Dollar Resorts Corp., U. S. Real Estate Development Co. and South Florida Regional Chamber of Commerce and executive director of U. S. Government Relations Bureau, most of which are companies listed under Larose’s ownership. Larose also said that he has 100 endorsements from 30 chambers of commerce and various associations.
Larose did not respond a request for comments on the violations. Instead, Larose said he would sue The Miami Times if he was contacted again.
The incumbent Messam was elected the first Black mayor of Miramar in March 2015. He also served as a city commissioner from 2011 to 2015. He promises to continue to raise the profile of the city and prepare it for the next 30 years.
“If re-elected for mayor, I will continue our Miramar 2030 vision to ensure Miramar is the most accessible and innovative city in South Florida by successfully preparing for 5G, autonomous vehicles and resilient infrastructure,” said Messam. “I will ensure the full implementation of Miramar becoming a Smart City, using technology and data to drive decisions to maximize [the] level of service for our residents.”
A Smart City uses sensors and technology to collect data to be used to provide updates on the social and economic status of citizens.
But Messam also has his share of election discrepancies.
According to a case filed by the Broward Inspector General, Messam was under investigation for an inaccurate campaign report violation during his 2015 mayoral bid. Messam reported a $10,000 expenditure item for a loan reimbursement to himself; however, the amount of the check that he was reimbursed for was $7,151.52, not $10,000.
In addition, Messam also issued two checks from his campaign account to his businesses, Asset Builders and Asset Realty & Associates. The expense items were United Air Lines, $484.20 and Expedia, $277.60 in January 2015, and were purchased with the campaign’s BB&T check card.
The case was turned over to the Florida Elections Commission. Agency clerk, Malphurs had no update on the status of the case.
Messam’s campaign spokeswoman Charley Norton said regarding the campaign report investigation: “To my knowledge, all expenditures were legitimate and appropriate campaign expenditures.”
The 44-year-old candidate owns a general contracting firm and has lived in Miramar for 19 years. He said the biggest issue facing the city is the completion of its redevelopment efforts of Historic Miramar, which is on the east side of the city.
Members of the commission approved a $60-miilion-revenue bond in 2013, part of which is to be used for the redevelopment of east Miramar.
The east side of the city is located on Southwest 64th Avenue on the east, University Drive on the west and Miami-Dade County Line on the south and Pembroke Road on the north. It needs to be modeled to match the newer west side located between Pembroke Pines on the north and Miami-Dade on the south.
The reconstruction of the historic part of the city has been an ongoing process. To date, the city has invested more than $100 Million in the infrastructure, including $30 million for a new water treatment plant and several miles of stormwater, sewer and water distribution piping, the incumbent said.
“As a result of this investment in infrastructure, many residential, commercial and other private developments have begun due to improvements we have made,” said Messam. “In addition, our neighborhoods will no longer flood and will be more safe.”