Part III Sarasota Co. Comm. Al Maio



By Jon Susce

Al Maio is the third of the five Sarasota County Commissioners being profiled by THE SARASOTA PHOENIX, all of whom are handpicked by the Godfather of local politics, Pat “The Godfather” Neal and his cronies—Randy Benderson, Carlos Beruff, Rex Jensen, and James Gabbert.

Maio and his colleagues on the commission are more than willing to fit quite nicely into the pockets of multi-millionaire gangster/developers like Neal, Beruff, Benderson, Jensen and Gabbert, along with various rainmaker consultants, land use attorneys and others who are corrupting Sarasota County government.  SEE ATTACHMENTS #1 AND #2

It is shameful and scandalous that Shaun Benderson, who is Randy Benderson’s “hatchet man”, brags to various Benderson employees that he and his father, Randy Benderson have Sarasota County Commissioners in their pockets. This scandalous claim by Shaun Benderson was reiterated at a recent civil lawsuit when numerous witnesses, under oath, stated that Randy Benderson has made similar statements.

Maio and the other four local hack-politicians on the commission are more than willing to follow the directions of Bob “THE CONVICTED FELON” Waechter and Eric “THE PRINCE OF  DARK MONEY PAC’s” Robinson to get elected. For Maio to deny that he is not another “go along get along” politician, handpicked by a corrupt political organization managed by Waechter and Robinson, is a joke.

 For example, when Waechter was arrested for attempting to maliciously and illegally sabotage the campaign of Maio’s opponent for the Sarasota County Commission, Maio admitted under oath that he had met with Waechter, previous to his arrest, to discuss campaign strategy. In addition, Eric Robinson, the “bag man” for stuffing money into the pockets of various corrupt Sarasota politicians, was Maio’s campaign treasurer.

Maio has no problem having his campaign coffers stuffed with thousands of dollars in campaign contributions so as to move along the multi-million dollar development agenda of those contributors who seek commission approval of their various projects. Maio makes it his business to assist those making $millions in various residential and retail developments, casting his vote in favor of the various projects they promote, and essentially making it much easier for him to uphold his personal financial life style.

In addition, Maio, like the four other Sarasota County Commissioners, lacks the ability and/or background to administer a multi-million dollar county budget, or make quality of life decisions for Sarasota County residents. Maio’s references to a successful business career on campaign literature and posted on the Sarasota County website, supposedly to exemplify a background reflecting strong qualifications to serve on the Sarasota County Commission, are laughable.

For example, on Maio’s bio, campaign literature and the Sarasota County Government website the following is stated: “Alan Maio and his wife, Nancy, moved to Sarasota County 30 years ago. A longtime conservative Republican, he has built two large restaurants, a large consulting business and a vacation rental business.”

One of the “two large restaurants” Maio references is a “frosty root beer stand” in Venice, which sells hamburgers, fries, beer or root beer.  Maio sold that establishment in 1991. The other “large restaurant” was another “frosty root beer stand” in Nokomis, which has gone out of business.

The “vacation rental business” Maio refers to is located in Gatlinburg, Tennessee and is a Maio business enterprise that one reliable source described as follows: “Maio lost his shirt during the real estate bust in 2008.” By the way, another “lost shirt” in Maio’s “vacation rental business” belonged to a partner in the venture, former Sarasota County Commissioner Joe Barbetta.

Can there be any doubt  that with Maio’s revenues from those two root beer stands in Venice, which he calls ”large restaurants” now  long gone and his financially troubled rental business in Tennessee in the weeds; he has no intention of putting his soft public sector job in jeopardy?  All Maio has to do is collect those public sector checks and the “bennies” that go with his gig, and join the other Sarasota County Commissioners in “going along to get along” with the dishonest, criminal “Pay to Play” system corrupting Sarasota County government that has being going on for years.


For example, Maio recently joined the other four Sarasota County Commissioners in approving two multi-million dollar projects that will make $millions$ for those who contributed thousands of  dollars in campaign contributions to Maio and his four colleagues, using campaign tactics, that have made a mockery out of local campaign finance regulations.

One of those recent multi-million dollar, “Pay to Play/Stealing in the Sunshine” projects upon which Maio voted approval on June 2, 2015 was the Villages of Manasota Beach Development project, which involved three of Maio’s major campaign contributors: local “rainmaker” attorney, Bill Merrill III, Robert “Bo” Medred and James Gabbert. On that date, Merrill sought and received unanimous approval of a 1,500 home multi-million dollar project in Englewood, which will have 1,563 residents on 782 acres.

The other recent “Pay to Play/Stealing in the Sunshine” project, which Maio and his fellow county commissioners approved unanimously on February 13, 2015 was the rezone petitions for the Foxfire residential development on a documented, heavily contaminated former dump site. This approval by the Sarasota County Commission has such a foul odor that it makes the stink of a toxic waste dump site smell sweet.

This residential project was supposed to have been dead and buried forever, but was resurrected by one of most politically connected “Pay to Pay” developers in the area, namely Carlos Beruff who brought this proposal back to life and got it approved.  Beruff epitomizes the disgusting way which Sarasota County Commissioners like Maio are used as nothing more than inept political puppets, which can be bought for pennies on a dollar.


The use of nefarious campaign tactics to implement the “Pay to Play/Stealing in the Sunshine” schemes used by Maio’s political benefactors like Neal, Benderson, Beruff, Jensen and a new member of this criminal enterprise James Gabbert (along with a few others) include the use of two significant methods to corrupt politicians like Maio.

One is to circumvent the local political system by completely disregarding local legislation regulations that place a limit of one $200 contribution per entity.  Benderson gave over fifty $200 contributions from various Benderson controlled LLC’s with most of them showing a Buffalo, New York address.

In addition, Eric Robinson, who is married to Sarasota County Commissioner Christine “The Crooked Argus Politcal Hack” Robinson, funnels thousands of dollars into the campaign coffers of county commissioners like Maio through over 30 PAC’s he manages. Robinson has been documented as funneling hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions to politicians like Maio through his various PAC’s and LLC’s to corrupt the political process throughout the State of Florida.

In addition, Eric Robinson, who is married to Sarasota County Commissioner Christine “The Crooked Argus Politcal Hack” Robinson, funnels thousands of dollars into the campaign coffers of county commissioners like Maio through over 30 PAC’s he manages. Robinson has been documented as funneling hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions to politicians like Maio through his various PAC’s and LLC’s to corrupt the political process throughout the State of Florida.

The methods that Robinson uses to corrupt the political system statewide, by funneling money from clients of Robinson to elect hand-picked politicians in the pockets of Robinson clients, justifies Cathy Antunes’ description of  Robinson as the “Prince of Dark Money.”

For example, the following describes how Robinson funneled money into Maio’s campaign against his opponent for Sarasota County Commissioner, Lourdes Ramirez:

Eric Robinson as the Chairperson, Treasurer and Agent for the CITIZENS UNITED FOR LESS TAXES PAC put together this PAC on June 1, 2014 for the past election cycle. On July 19, 2014, a $75,000 contribution came into Robinson’s managed PAC from an entity called “Phoenix Media.”

On August 5 & 6, 2014, $3,594 of the $75,000 in the CITIZENS UNITED FOR LESS TAXES PAC, contributed by “Phoenix Media”, found $3,594 going to Political Ink, which is an ad agency based in Washington D.C. The Bob Waechter/Eric Robinson/Mac Stevenson political machine have used Political Ink over the last three local election cycles to attack the opponents of multimillionaire developers like Neal, Benderson, Beruff, Jensen and a few other clients of the Waechter/Robinson/Stevenson political operation.

On August 19, 2014, $30,542 of the $75,000 contribution from “Phoenix Media” which went into Robinson’s PAC, found its way once again going to Political Ink. The Washington DC ad agency again sent out malicious, negative political ads against Lourdes Ramirez.

According to campaign finance information found at the Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections, the “Phoenix Media” address of record is P.O Box 1041, Venice, Florida.  If this address is connected to Robinson and other nefarious Robinson related political actions, a question has to be asked:  Are the rumors circulating in Sarasota that the “Prince of Dark Money” is under criminal investigation for his role in corrupting the political process in the State of Florida accurate?

Another question that needs be asked regarding the “consulting firms” operated by Maio, Eric “THE PRINCE OF DARK MONEY PAC’s “Robinson, County Commissioner Christine “THE CROOKED ARGUS POLITICAL HACK” Robinson, and former Sarasota County Commissioner Joe Barbetta: Are these “consulting firms” now funneling “dark money” into the pockets of other local politicians?                                         


Posted in Breaking News, Politics, Regional / Local News, Regional / Local Politics

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