Miami Mayor Francis Xavier Suarez – and one time Republican candidate for president – defended his trips to Saudi Arabia amid calls for his resignation. He said his trips were made on behalf of his law firm as well as the city of Miami.
“Private, and paid for by my law firm, which are things that we have detailed for the Miami Herald in a variety of different emails over the course of months,” Suarez told WTVJ, the NBC television affiliate in Miami.
“Some of them are on behalf of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, some of them are private so it depends on the trip and the circumstances.”
In stories published on Monday, the Miami Herald explored whether Suarez violated the law by failing to register as foreign agent. Suarez brought a Saudi-backed investment forum to Florida.
The Foreign Agents Registration Act requires those involved in political activities abroad to register as an agent for that country. The summit is part of an ongoing Congressional investigation into how Saudi Arabia bought its way into popular U.S. institutions,” the newspaper reported.
“Every lawyer that I have consulted with has told me that is completely unnecessary because we have not been representing any country or any foreign entity, so there’s absolutely no registration required, that is completely hocus-pocus,” Suarez told WTVJ for a report on Wednesday
The Herald also investigated Suarez’s frequent trips overseas with a taxpayer-funded security, reporting he was out of town for months at time.
Already, the FBI, Securities and Exchange Commission, the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office and the Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics and Public Trust were investigating Suarez relations with developer Location Ventures and its financial dealing, the newspaper previously reported
Miami City Commissioner Damian Pardo called on Suarez to resign.
“The allegations against Mayor Suarez continue to raise serious questions about the culture of corruption that has gone unchecked in Miami’s City Hall for too long,” Pardo said.