Miramar Mayor's Bid For Presidency Off to Bumpy Start

By any measure, Miramar Mayor Wayne Messam's quest for the presidency of the United States is a long shot.

Earlier this month, he reported raising just over $80,000 through March -- the lowest number of any of the candidates garnering even mildly serious national attention.

But, it turns out, the actual number was even worse: around half that much, less than $44,000 -- thanks to what Messam said was a software problem that led to the campaign mistakenly double-counting some donations.

But now there are issues over how to spend whatever money remains.

A former staffer told Miami New Times that payroll was missed on Monday.

While not confirming that, when asked if there was a problem with payroll coming out this week, Messam told the NBC 6 Investigators, "Only issue we've had in terms of understanding those individuals who have made claims for payment to ensure that individuals that are making claims for payment have actually done the work."

Asked if those people were still on the campaign or had walked away, he said: "The campaign is actually ramping up in terms of the campaign. We have dealt with vendors, we have dealt with consultants. The Wayne Messam campaign does not have employees. We have consultants and vendors that are working for Wayne for America campaign."

Attempts to reach people who the campaign has said were part of the leadership staff were unsuccessful.

But how a previous Messam campaign has spent money is currently under investigation by the Florida Elections Commission.

His 2015 mayoral campaign spent more than $9,000 with a business owned by him and his wife, according to an investigation by the Broward County Inspector General. The expenditures were reported as being for marketing, supplies, campaign banners, printing and advertising.

But the Messam's company is a construction company, so after a tipster alleged Messam was personally profiting from his campaign, the IG launched an investigation, subpoenaing bank records and requesting documents from the campaign and interviews with the Messams.

But, IG records show, the Messams declined to be interviewed and their attorney disputed whether the IG was entitled to such things as invoices that would perhaps explain the expenditures in greater detail.

"It is reasonable to infer that either the records and statements they are withholding are unfavorable to them or the records are not in the treasurer's possession as required by law, or both," wrote the legal adviser to the IG. "Thus, there is sufficient evidence to support a finding of probable cause to believe that the Messams have violated Florida campaign finance law."

The IG then referred the matter to the Florida Elections Commission.

For his part, Messam said, "We had full cooperation. All available documents that are required to be reported for campaigns were properly and timely submitted."

He added that he has responded to the elections commission investigation, which he said remains open. The commission does not comment on on-going investigation until it has determined whether or not there is probable cause of a violation.

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