“How can I help?”

That’s the motto that Miami Mayor Francis Suarez has for the companies and entrepreneurs who do business in this magical city.

Location Ventures CEO Rishi Kapoor seems to have taken the offer to heart, compensating Suarez thousands of dollars a month for it.

Urbin, the co-living and co-working arm of Kapoor Location Ventures, paid Suarez $10,000 a month in consulting fees, according to a recently filed lawsuit and affirmative defense in Miami-Dade Circuit Court.

In an emailed statement, Kapoor said Urbin kept Suarez because his company was “grateful [the mayor’s] An innovative and progressive mindset and approach to affordability, sustainability and resilience. “

“As a consultant, Mr. Suarez advised Urbin by providing feedback on the planning and the brand’s larger mission of bringing new housing opportunities to the urban market,” Kapoor said. “Not just in Miami-Dade County, but elsewhere.”

Greg Brooks, the former chief financial officer of Location Ventures, filed a lawsuit against the company in Miami-Dade Circuit Court last week, alleging that Suarez was paid for “unknown services.” The complaint said the mayor had no written agreement or invoice for Urbin’s part-time job.

Brooks is suing Kapoor’s company for an $80,000 bonus owed to him by Location Ventures for securing financing for two real estate projects. The former CFO claims Kapoor fired him after he became aware of financial misconduct at Location Ventures and declined to participate.

For example, Kapoor allegedly made more than $3 million in unauthorized fees that violated the company’s operating agreement to develop the project, the suit says. In addition to Suarez’s payment, Brooks also challenged other allegedly unexplained company expenses, such as Kapoor’s McLaren sports car, the lawsuit said.

Brooks’ attorney, Brian Pollack, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Brian Goodkind, an attorney representing Location Ventures, said the former executive wanted to exaggerate the allegations to squeeze his client.

“In my view, these allegations are designed to increase the pressure we should feel from this lawsuit,” Goodkind said. “[Brooks] is seriously wrong, and his version of the facts is inaccurate. ”

In answer and affirmative defense, Location Ventures asserted that Urbin did enter into a written agreement with Suarez that was “reviewed and approved by the City Attorney.” The court documents also said the agreement made it clear that Suarez may have to recuse himself or resign from his consulting firm “in the event of any conflict of interest.”

Location Ventures’ answer said Kapoor bought the McLaren with his own money and that he legally received a development fee.

in email exchanges real dealMiami City Attorney Victoria Mendes said she was not aware of the arrangement and that her office did not have a copy of the agreement between Location Ventures and Suarez.

“Our office generally believes the mayor may have outside income/job,” Mendes wrote. “If anyone who employs a mayor is in [city] Committee agendas that require action by the mayor, the mayor must recuse. “

Mendez wrote that her office did not find out that Location Ventures or Urbin had raised questions with the city commission that Suarez had recused.

Suarez did not respond to a text message seeking comment. His spokesman, Soledad Cedro, issued a statement acknowledging that Suarez “had a written agreement with Urbin regarding work not related to any city business in Miami” and that “will properly disclose details of said agreement as required by law.” detail.”

Florida law requires all elected officials to file an annual financial interest statement, which must list their sources of income. Suarez, who makes an annual salary of $97,000 as mayor and receives a $33,000 fee stipend from the city, recently filed his 2021 financial disclosures, which did not list Location Ventures or Urbin as sources of income.

Suarez, who is considering running for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, was paid at least $80,000 from August 2022 through March, the months that Brooks worked at Location Ventures, miami herald report.

Caroline Klancke, executive director of the Florida Ethics Institute, said that under Florida’s ethics code, Suarez must disclose the income he received from Urbin last year in his 2022 statement of financial interests. Elected officials have until July 1 to submit the form. Rank added that any income this year must be listed in Suarez’s financial disclosure statement next year.

“Generally, high profile people like [Suarez] will be submitted by July 1,” Klancke told TRD“This is a transparency requirement under the state’s ethics law.”

Robert Jarvis, an ethics law professor at Nova Southeastern University, said the public still has the right to know all the details about Suarez’s consulting work, including how and why Location Ventures decided to hire him.

“The public has a right to know if their mayor is being morally compromised,” Jarvis said. “It’s such an important source of income that [he has] Disclose everything. As a civil servant, I don’t think he has any right to privacy, nor does the company. “

Kapoor will also have to explain why he specifically hired Soares, the current mayor of a city where Location Ventures has at least one active development, Jarvis said. Location Ventures is currently developing Urbin Coconut Grove, a co-living mixed-use project.

“There are literally thousands of people in the private sector who could do what Suarez is doing,” Jarvis said. He’s because he’s the mayor, and you think that gives you some sort of power or insider status.”

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