[Miami, FL] Drama and tempers flew tonight at the regular Miami-Dade Republican Executive Committee (REC) meeting.
For over a year, tensions have been building inside the organization due to the committee’s refusal to enable new members into the party infrastructure, as required per Florida law.
The main issues were the refusal of the Miami-Dade GOP to announce openings on the Miami-Dade REC, preferring to install their own candidates in the dark, and the refusal to provide contact information of members for applicants to effectively campaign for committee positions, as required by Florida law per one understanding of the statute.
Tonight, the issues came to a head as the newly-elected Vice Chairman Kevin Cooper, pulled a stunt to prevent a vote on a motion to announce vacancies available on the REC.
Witnesses called his behavior "unethical. People were furious."
After a lengthy discussion by newly-elected Chairman Alex Rizo, who attempted to let all voices be heard, a motion was put forth to allow the vacancy information to be distributed to all committee members. This would have allowed alternates to become full committeemen and new committeemen to be recruited.
Cooper, then loudly and dramatically shouted for all of his ‘friends’ to leave the meeting so there would not be a quorum present and the motion could not be voted on legally.
Great anger erupted in the room after this "unethical move," witnesses said.
Cuban-born American attorney Ed Vidal, who fled Fidel Castro’s communism as a child to America, confronted Cooper and a scuffle ensued. Vidal grabbed Cooper’s collar.
Cooper, then started screaming.
“I’m an attorney and I'm going to put you in jail Ed," he screamed, and pranced around the room according to witnesses. The police were called.
It is The Miami Independent’s understanding at printing that Vidal would be arrested tonight or tomorrow.
Cooper is a young attorney and chief counsel to Lennar, a local real estate developer.
When called tonite following the meeting, Kevin Cooper refused to give a statement or even say what law firm he worked for.
"I'm going to put out a statement in the morning," screamed Cooper, and he then proceeded to rant about a journalist calling him at 11:00pm.
The call was placed at 10:23 pm.
Cooper refused to answer any questions and became insulting and more upset.
When the Miami Independent told Cooper to stop the insults, he hung up the phone.
He had repeatedly refused to answer the question as to what law firm he worked.
We spoke with Miami-Dade police and verified their intention to arrest the elderly Vidal tonight or tomorrow.
"Transparency in every organization is key. The REC seems to be avoiding basic rights of Republicans which disenfranchises voters & our democratic republic. I’ve been trying to join the REC via their website for over two years. Tonight’s motion to simply supply the list of vacancies for REC positions was presented by an elected REC committee woman gave further light to what seems like an ongoing cycle of avoiding basic rights of Republicans in general," declared recent GOP Miami Commissioner Candidate Christie Tasker, who was at the meeting.
"Based on my own interaction with the Miami Dade Elections Department, I understand the REC is supposed to have an updated list of current and vacant committee seats. When I went to the Elections Department they knew very little about the REC committee openings because the list has NOT been updated in years. All applicants are part of public records therefore the REC should provide a list of committee elected officials accessibility to all.
"Tonight a committee woman made the motion; it was seconded by several other people. Before the motion was finished, and other people were permitted to speak, a group left the room like kindergarteners running to the restroom. A few minutes later those members returned to get other members. Only later did I realized they were trying prohibit a quorum. I did not realize people could leave a meeting then return later to prevent a quorum. Sure enough another role was called and they said they had no quorum. The lack of transparency among the REC board is alarming. The entire process could have been simplified by the board just agreeing to release the information to existing members. They would not agree. Instead the night ended with multiple police being called over what seems like a struggle for information."
Vidal's actions were not justified, but Cooper pulled an immature and declasse political stunt, according to witnesses.
Full Disclosure - Ed Vidal is a contributor to The Miami Independent.
Christine Dolan is a seasoned Investigative Journalist, television producer, author, and photographer. She is Co-Founder of American Conversations whose format focuses on in-depth analysis of critical issues about “the story behind the headlines.” She started the famous news program Inside Politics at CNN.