Yet another mayor in Miami-Dade County has begun an August day in handcuffs.
Homestead Mayor Steve Bateman was arrested at his home Wednesday on public corruption charges. The Miami Herald reports that Bateman is charged with unlawful compensation for not disclosing a secret $125-per-hour consulting job for a non-profit health chain while the company was seeking City of Homestead approval for expansion.
The arrest comes just days after Miami Lakes Mayor Michael Pizzi and Sweetwater Mayor Manuel "Manny" Marono were taken into custody after separate FBI stings concerning bribery and kickbacks over federal grant money. Both men were charged with conspiracy to commit extortion and have been suspended from office.
"This betrayal of our public trust is intolerable," said U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer after Pizzi and Marono were arrested. "Our democracy suffers in these cases when elected officials use their power and political influence for personal gain instead of the public good."
According to a CBS Miami investigation, Mayor Bateman had pushed for the approval of a sewage project in South Dade that would have allowed for his employer, Community Health of South Florida, to expand -- and even begged Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez to approve the project during a rare hour-long meeting.
During that lobbying period, prosecutors say, he never disclosed that he was on the company's payroll.
“If he had let us know he was working for that company, we would have required him to register as a lobbyist before we’d even let him in the building,” Miami Dade Deputy Mayor Jack Osterholt told CBS Miami. "And he wouldn’t have gotten a meeting with the Mayor. We probably would have had him just meet with staff."
The Associated Press reports Bateman, who was first elected mayor in 2009, was paid $3,625 by Community Health. The company had authorized as much as $120,000 for his services.
"He looks forward to his vindication. He has served the community for many years in an honest, dependable manner," attorney Ben Kuehne said in a statement to the AP. "He has honestly earned every dollar he received through hard work and dedication to the public."