Commissioner Bruno Barreiro May Be Involved In Conflict Of Interest
A Miami-Dade County commissioner has not disclosed he's liable for a contractor's $300,000 mortgage, as required by law, and appears to be financially benefiting from his district office lease, an investigation by the Daily Business Review has found.
State disclosure forms required of public officials do not list a 2010 balloon mortgage obtained from Miami plumbing contractor Javier Cruz, which was co-signed by Commissioner Bruno A. Barreiro Jr. and his parents.
The mortgage is not only undisclosed but also appears to create a conflict of interest for the commissioner. The loan is secured by both a five-unit apartment building owned by the commissioner next door and a nearby lot owned by his parents.
Barreiro's parents also own the office building in Miami's East Little Havana neighborhood that the county leases as a district office for the commissioner. Because Barreiro is liable for any default on the loan, he has a direct financial interest in his parents' business, including the county lease.
While his parents' ownership of the district office building Barreiro has occupied for 14 years is no secret, the DBR investigation found a previously undisclosed benefit the commissioner is deriving from that transaction.
The office lease renewed last month includes use of a parking lot shared by the office building and Barreiro's apartment building.
The county pays to keep the parking lot free of trash, while Barreiro's tenants at 1466 SW First St. get free parking as part of their rent in a neighborhood with limited off-street parking.
Interviewed at his district office, Barreiro denied he personally profited from his close relationship with his parents' business. While acknowledging the shared use of the parking lot and the $300,000 loan, he said he'd derived "zero benefit" from those transactions.
Several law professors who reviewed the DBR's findings, however, said Barreiro's disclosure documents and business dealings raised ethical questions.
"These findings suggest that the commissioner may be improperly exploiting his public office for his own private benefit and that of his family," said Anthony Alfieri, a University of Miami law professor who founded and directs the university's Center for Ethics and Public Service. "The conduct deserves scrutiny by the Miami-Dade County Ethics Commission at a minimum."