Miami’s mayor is a man of many side gigs. But are residents getting their money’s worth? | Opinion

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez salutes the crowd before his first speech as a candidate for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California on Thursday, June 15, 2023.

Mayor Francis Suarez is what you might call an entrepreneur. He’s the figure head of Miami-Dade County’s largest city. He ran for president until this week. Since the beginning of 2020, he’s had more than a dozen side gigs — very lucrative ones that helped him earn millions, the Herald reported Wednesday.

Suarez’s outside employment has been a source of controversy after Herald reporters found he received monthly $10,000 consulting payments from a real-estate developer who needed favorable treatment from City Hall. Those payments are now the subject of an FBI investigation.

Suarez has become rich while receiving a mayoral compensation package worth $130,000.

The position of Miami mayor’s is part time, which has allowed Suarez to seek outside employment. Yet Suarez earns what, by Miami standards, is full-time compensation — and a hefty one. The city’s median household income is less than $48,000 annually, according to the U.S. Census.

Not only does Suarez’s many outside jobs raise the question of his commitment to the office to which he was elected, but Miamians should ask why they are paying their mayor top dollar for it.

New financial disclosure forms he filed with the Federal Elections Commission as part of his short White House run show that Suarez listed an income range of $2.1 million to $12.9 million for the past 20 months. His wealth came from 15 consulting arrangements or jobs, including his compensation for being mayor, as well as five investment properties. Suarez also has a $360,000-per-year position at a private equity firm.

Just a decade ago, when he first took office as a commissioner, Suarez, a lawyer, listed a negative net worth. At the end of 2022, it was $3.4 million.

Perhaps the mayor just worked really hard — and, so far, there’s no evidence he might have committed any wrongdoing. Perhaps it’s a coincidence that Suarez earned millions while he held a public job he used to raise his profile among wealthy donors and tech bros. Or that some of his earnings came from the same industries he promotes as mayor.

For example, Suarez, a crypto currency enthusiast, received stock options from Redivider, a crypto mining company where he is a minority investor. The company was previously looking to open a mining operation in Homestead, the Herald reported. Suarez also received $50,000 to $100,000 from Bilt Rewards, which, in 2021, he said on social media he wanted to bring to Miami.

Suarez has been reluctant in the past to disclose his sources of income, but federal requirements in his presidential run required him to do so. Were the mayor not seeking the White House, we might have never found out by how much he grew his wealth while in office.

Suarez’s opaqueness about this issue raises even more questions about whether Miamians are getting a return on their investment in the city’s leader.

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