I certainly believe, as a legal matter, that how expenses were submitted and approved for other Miami officials is relevant (but not dispositive) to whether or not the City Attorney followed an established pattern and practice within the City for expenses for his own office. But as a political matter, given that the City Attorney is hired and fired by those he just subpoenaed, it's hard to say if this is a smart career move.
The lengthy request, filed by Fernandez's defense attorney, Barry Wax, asks for, among other things:
``All expense reports, expense affidavits, memorandums, receipts, vouchers and other documents submitted by all City of Miami Commissioners to the Finance Department for reimbursement of expenses paid to them by the City of Miami from 1998 to the present, and all memorandums, correspondence or e-mails approving or denying reimbursements.''
Fernandez is hired and fired by the City Commission. So how did this records request go over with his bosses?
''I think it's unfortunate that somebody would try to obtain leverage over elected officials when they're being investigated themselves,'' said Commissioner Marc Sarnoff. ``I was very disappointed to see that.''
Sarnoff said his office has nothing to hide. But he adds: 'It's not a valid criminal defense to say `Others do it, so why shouldn't I?' ''
City Commissioner Tomás Regalado, too, said there wouldn't be any questionable spending records uncovered from his office. ''I have never traveled with city money, and never requested any reimbursement from the city, so from me, he won't get anything,'' Regalado said.
No one has accused Fernandez of a crime. Yet as the city attorney braces for the possibility of charges, his lawyer said he's doing what any defense advocate would do.
''I'm analyzing every possibility in order to effectively represent my client,'' he said, ``so as to bring to bear appropriate information which will persuade the State Attorney's office that there has been no criminal intent.''
All I know is I would trust '85 UM grad Barry M. Wax's judgment on this issue way before I would that of the current City Attorney.