Hialeah Representative Secures Funding Amidst Controversies and Industry Ties
In the third quarter of 2023, Hialeah Representative Alex Rizo successfully amassed $41,000 in funds to fortify his position in representing House District 112. A significant portion of his financial support, exceeding half, originated from two primary sources: a South Florida casino and a political committee with notable ties to billionaire Jeffrey Soffer.
Rizo, who also serves as the chair of the Miami-Dade GOP, concluded the quarter with approximately $119,000, taking into account campaign account and political committee, Principled Moral Conservatism. Noteworthy contributions included a substantial $15,000 from The Big Easy Casino, a prominent Broward-based establishment formerly recognized as Mardi Gras Casino and Hollywood Greyhound Track.
The second-largest financial backing came from Building a Better Florida PC, a political committee chaired by lobbyist Michael Corcoran. Notably, this committee has historical connections with the Fontainebleau hotel in Miami Beach and the Florida Optometric Association (FOA). Jeffrey Soffer owns both the casino and hotel.
Of the total contributions to the committee since 2013, a significant 64% originated from FOA, while 18% came from the Fontainebleau. Rizo played a role in securing a gambling permit for the Fontainebleau through a gaming compact with the Seminole Tribe in 2021. In the same year, he sponsored a bill, albeit unsuccessfully, advocating for expanded optometric practices, a move contested by ophthalmologists.
Despite the setbacks, Rizo’s financial gains in Q3 also included contributions from health care-related entities such as the Florida Chiropractic Coalition and pharmaceutical company Novartis. Notably, Rizo received a $5,000 contribution from Skyway, an air traffic navigation service provider for drones.
Other notable contributors included the Associated Builders and Contractors of Florida and Rep. Sam Garrison through his political committee, Honest Leadership.
While Rizo spent $20,600 during the reporting period, including significant contributions to Conservative Florida and the campaign of Homestead City Commission candidate Clemente Canabal, his funding allocation also covered campaign and maintenance expenses. Sponsorship and tickets for a Miami-Dade GOP event, email services through Mailchimp, and mailbox rental at a UPS Store in Hialeah were among the expenses.
Holding his position since 2020, Rizo faces upcoming elections in HD 112, covering a northwest portion of Miami-Dade, including Hialeah, Miami Springs, Virginia Gardens, and part of Miami. The representative remains a prominent figure in the region’s political landscape, navigating controversies and maintaining his financial standing as he heads towards the upcoming Primary Election on Aug. 20, 2024, followed by the General Election on Nov. 5. Candidates disclosed their campaign finance activity until Sept. 30, marking a crucial phase in the lead-up to the elections.