Miami Dade County Commissioner Charged after Corruption Investigation

Daniel Perodin, Staff Writer

Miami Dade County commissioner, Joe Martinez, surrendered at a county jail on Aug. 30 after being charged with a count of unlawful compensation and a count of conspiracy.

The former police lieutenant has served on the Miami Dade County Commission for a total of 18 years. He won the seat in 2000 and served in the position for different periods of time since then. In 2012 he resigned to run for mayor, and then for congress in 2014 as a Republican, but he ultimately lost. He became commissioner again after winning the election in 2016. 

Martinez denied any wrongdoing. The charges stem from an alleged deal involving a $15,000 bribe. The state attorney prosecuting the case, Katherine Fernandez Rundle, claims that in 2016 and 2017, Martinez was paid by a business owner to draft legislation that would ease restrictions on storage units. The warrant also accused Martinez of using his role as a government official to obtain a loan for his employer, Centurion Security. Martinez claims that the case is political by nature and that the state attorney wants to derail his campaign for sheriff.

“There is a history of corruption in Miami Dade County,” Miami Palmetto Senior High School American History and Economics teacher, Armando Gonzalez said. “Definitely more oversight. By whom? By an independent organization.”

According to a 2019 report by the University of Illinois at Chicago, Miami is the fourth most corrupt city in the United States. Between 1976 and 2018 there were 1,204 federal corruption convictions in Miami. In 2019 the FBI set up an international corruption squad in Miami. 

The prosecutor acknowledged the ramifications of this case, stating that it has made people lose trust in their government at a press conference that took place on Aug. 30. Following the charges, FL governor Ron DeSantis could suspend Martinez from his position, recently he commented on the case saying that there will be a new commissioner. The Governor said that he will make a decision soon.