Miami Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones is running for a second term, buffeted by headwinds that include an ethical cloud that has hung over her office, resistance from a growing number of quarters in Miami’s Black community, and grumblings from supporters of her former pastor, Gaston Smith, that Spence Jones milked him for $8,000 in “consulting fees” and then threw him under the legal bus (Smith goes to trial this month on charges he mis-used MMAP funds.) But so far, Spence-Jones has also had a lot going for her: namely, about $180,000 in fundraising (though money can’t buy you love, in Miami, it can usually buy you an election.) However, with just days to go before Election Day, things are starting to get weird.
I was apparently one of several journo types and political people who were emailed a pretty scathing 3-page document cataloging a string of alleged bad deeds, not just by Ms. Spence-Jones, but also by her husband, Nathanial. The document is written with enough legalistic language to sound like it came from an attorney, or someone who works with one (or maybe with a bunch of taxpayer-paid ones, if you know what I mean…) and it contains case files that link to actual cases against Nathanial Jones (I looked them up via the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s case file hotline.) However, an attorney friend of mine who specializes in criminal cases tells me the information in the document could easily have been found by anyone, using the County Clerk’s website (which the county clerk’s office also said.) Still, someone went to an awful lot of trouble to do three pages worth of research. Among the dirt: male prostitution, petty larceny, theft and drug possession charges (both verified by the case files, and all resulting in pretrial “diversion” or no adjudication…) on the part of Nathanial Jones dating back to 2000, 2004 and 2006, plus a litany of allegations that Spence-Jones and her political mentor, Barbara Carey-Shuler, played fast and loose with tazpayer money. A peek at the dirt inside. From page one:
How well do you know Michelle Spence-Jones, your City of Miami District 5 Commissioner?
Commissioner, Michelle Spence-Jones, Born August 2, 1967
Husband, Nathaniel R. Jones, Born July 4, 1966
Home Address: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
1. Is it true that: While the Miami Herald previously reported that some investigations of Commissioner, Michelle Spence-Jones were dropped, that as of October, 2009 Spence-Jones is currently under intense investigation by the Public Corruption Department of the State Attorney’s Office, as well as by another Federal level investigation unit, and that numerous individuals have recently received subpoenas to appear for oral testimony in the case, and that charges against the Commissioner are forthcoming?
2. Is it true that: Then Commissioner, Barbara Carey-Schuler and Spence-Jones crony, used $125,000 of tax-payer dollars to fund renovations of 4901-5 NW 7th Ave., Miami, FL 33127, a building occupied by Michelle Spence-Jones’ family to develop, build and run their Café’ Soul and Yellow Moon Spa businesses?
3. Is it true that: The Michelle Spence-Jones family business, AKA, Karym Ventures, Inc., after wasting $125,000 of tax-payer funds renovating the building, improperly occupied the building, didn’t pay rent to the property owner, while collecting rents from sub-tenants, and now lost the court case against them, as Defendant, in a Final Judgment on Oct. 15, 2009, and will soon face eviction from the property at 4901-5 NW 7th Ave., Miami, FL 33127?
Reference: Miami-Dade County Clerk of the Courts Case File #: 2008-16740-CA-31
Florida State Case No.: 13-2008-CA-016740-0000-01
Book Page #: 27048-3225
4. Is it true that: Michelle Spence-Jones bilked $8,000 of tax payer moneys, funded by then Commissioner and Spence-Jones crony, Barbara Carey-Schuler, intended to support the community, from her own Pastor, Rev. Gaston Smith, for no work done in return, and then blamed him in the current ongoing public corruption investigation?
5. Is it true that: Husband, Nathaniel R. Jones was arrested by City of Miami Police, charged and enrolled in a Pre-Trial Intervention Program upon receiving charges of Prostitution, while working as a Gay Male Hooker on the streets of Miami?
Reference: Miami-Dade County Courts Case #M00040851
Florida State Case No.: 132000MO0408510001XX
You can read it all for yourself here. The original file contained personal addresses and phone numbers, which I blacked out for obvious reasons.
The Jeff Torain campaign has denied having anything to do with the document, with a campaign spokesperson saying “we’re not running a hit campaign. We’re running a change campaign.” I have a call in to David Chiverton, and will keep you posted. The document was originally linked to the Facebook page of a local political activist, Tangela Sears, but a source close to Ms. Sears says it didn’t come from her, either. (I have a call in to Ms. Sears as well.)
This one counts as “developing…”
UPDATE: Just spoke to District 5 candidate David Chiverton, who said he has seen a hard copy of the document, but had nothing to do with sending it out. “I just don’t run that kind of campaign,” Chiverton told me.