Coral Gable’s commissioner Jorge Fors Jr. sues lobbyists Kevin Marino Cabrerahis opponent for the Miami-Dade Commission in District 6, for what he calls a “civil conspiracy” to defame him ahead of the fall election.
In a lawsuit filed Thursday in the 11th Circuit, Fors alleges that Cabrera and several campaign advisers and political committees disseminated “false, defamatory statements” and “realistic but manipulated images” intended to tarnish his reputation.
These include misleading campaign emails sent to “thousands of easily identifiable voters in Miami-Dade County” to cloud Fors for “malicious purposes.”
The mailers and other attack media of Cabrera’s campaign – including a now offline website, ForsTheFraud.comtheir financing is due to the political committee of Cabrera — Fors had been considering a lawsuit for months. The website included a photoshopped image of Fors handcuffed and wearing an orange jumpsuit while sitting in a jail cell and what appeared to be arrest records of Fors.
Fors said he has never been arrested in his life. He also denied claims by Cabrera’s campaign that he “refused to pay (any) property taxes.” In August, Fors told the Miami Herald that he wrongly filed for a condo homestead exemption about five years ago and has since paid back the outstanding taxes, interest and penalties.
But Fors said it was a particularly misleading tactic Cabrera’s team allegedly launched this week that broke the camel’s back.
On September 17, reporter for the Miami Herald Doug Hanks Posted Screenshots to Twitter of text messages sent to District 6 voters. The messages, which were sent with an image of hands tied with rope, claimed Fors voted against the closure of “shady motels” in Coral Gables that act as “human trafficking fronts.” The texts state that Fors accepts campaign contributions from the motels, profits “from the backs of prostitutes through the trafficking of women, men and children,” and directs recipients to ForsTheFraud.com.
A disclaimer in the top left corner of the image states that funding for the lyrics came Save our quality of lifea Tampa-based political committee that received a $135,000 inflow in August from another political committee headed by a GOP strategist Anthony Pedicini. The Pedicini political committee, in turn, has received $90,000 from the Cabrera political committee since mid-July, Dade First PC.
Fors called the messages “a completely fabricated advertisement,” adding that he had never voted on anything motel-related until last week, when he voted to place additional requirements on the establishments.
Records from the City of Coral Gables show Fors and the other members of the City Commission voted unanimously in favor of the ordinance in question which mayor Vince Lago Sponsored.
“I have three little girls, and I think human trafficking is not something to play with,” Fors told Florida Politics. “It’s an extremely serious problem in our communities, particularly in South Florida. And that got me pretty over the edge.
“Trying to associate myself with human traffickers and sex work, an illegal industry, that was enough. I can’t let them continue to lie to voters through their teeth and fabricate things in order to get elected. So I filed the lawsuit.”
In addition to Cabrera, Pedicini, Dade First PC and Save Our Quality of Life, Fors is also suing political advisers David Mueller and Thomas Piccolowho, according to the suit, works with Pedicini through the Tampa company SimWinsand political agent Alex Miranda and his company Miranda Advocacy.
The lawsuit also targets another political committee appointed by Pedicini Citizens Alliance for Florida’s Economy PC and five unnamed individuals identified as John Doe #1, John Doe #2, John Doe #3, and Jane Doe.
The libel suit is unspecified monetary damages. Fors said he hopes it “sends a strong message to them that there will be consequences for their actions.”
The lawsuit also throws barbs at Cabrera, a longtime political activist and government relations specialist who has been backed by several high-profile GOP politiciansincluding the former president donald trumpUS Rep. Maria Elvira SalazarChief Financial Officer and Fire Marshal Jimmy PatronisMayor of Miami Franz Suarez and Lago.
Despite Cabrera’s roots in politics – he campaigned for Trump, the former governor. Jeb Bushformer U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo and Justice of the Florida Supreme Court John Couriel, among other things – Cabrera fights as a kind of political outsider. He called Fors, another Republican, an “up and coming career politician.”
Cabrera, the lawsuit states, is a “career lobbyist” registered in the state of Florida and Miami-Dade County who “yet falsely describes himself to voters as a ‘political outsider.'”
“In addition, Cabrera is or was a member of the Proud Boys … a neo-fascist organization that promotes and engages in political violence in the United States (and) has been classified as a terrorist group in Canada and New Zealand.”
This allegation stems from an incident in October 2018 in which Cabrera, who was then a lobbyist for the Southern groupwas caught on video attending a protest alongside members of the Proud Boys and the Miami-Dade Republican Party outside the former Democratic US Representative’s office. Donna Schalala. In which VideoCabrera is seen banging his fist on Shalala’s door while holding a rudimentarily drawn poster speaking out against communism.
The incident drew reprimands from the US Senator. Marco Rubio and Curbelo, who said him “completely” agreed that the protest was “100 percent false” and “disgusting.”
Cabrera, who now serves as senior vice president of a global public strategy firm mercuryclaimed he was Exercising its first modification rights but condemned the Proud Boys and “any group that advocates any kind of hate”.
Too little, too late, said Fors.
“His participation in this protest coupled with his failure to publicly denounce the Proud Boys or to say publicly that he is not affiliated with and/or a member of the Proud Boys (justifies this claim),” he said. “And by the way, I don’t know if the Proud Boys have a formal membership system like your local gym. What does it mean to be a member of such an organization? Is it a simple affiliation? do you have tickets
“But if you’re with them and you’re not denouncing them — not saying you’re not — then there’s a basis for saying you’re a member.”
Florida Politics contacted Cabrera for comment on the lawsuit. Cabrera responded, saying his campaign hasn’t received the lawsuit and will “act accordingly” after reviewing it with a lawyer.
Florida Politics emailed Cabrera a copy of the lawsuit and will update this story as it develops.
Fors and Cabrera are running in a runoff after neither received enough votes to directly win the District 6 seat on the Miami-Dade Commission. Cabrera received 43% of the vote while Fors received 26%. Miami-Dade Election Rules require that a county commission candidate receive more than half the votes cast during the technically impartial primary campaign to win office.
The winner on November 8th will be successful temporarywhich Fors has supported as her preferred successor.
District 6 encompasses a north-central portion of Miami-Dade, including part or all of the cities of Coral Gables, Hialeah, Miami, Miami Springs, Virginia Gardens, and West Miami. The district also contains Miami International Airportone of the county’s two economic powerhouses, and a golf course in Miami renovated as a football stadium for the city’s Major League Soccer team.