March 16, 2018 |To Miami-Dade County insiders, it was no shock when Munilla Construction Management (MCM) beat out three other competitors to win a $14.2 million bid to build a high-tech pedestrian bridge at Florida International University. That’s because Munilla is not only one of the biggest contractors in South Florida but also one of the most politically connected thanks to years of shelling out hundreds of thousands of dollars to campaigns.|
Investigators are still sifting through the wreckage from yesterday’s deadly bridge collapse that killed six, and there’s no clear answer yet what went wrong.
But questions are bound to be raised about Munilla’s deep ties to local politicians, including U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart and Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez — especially because the firm has never been shy about turning its political generosity into favorable decision-making.
Just take a look at the last election cycle, when Munilla executives and entities dropped an eye-opening $25,000 into local campaign coffers, according to a Miami Herald analysis at the time. In fact, the firm was the only company the Herald found that had given generously to all six county commissioners running for reelection.
Not coincidentally, the county commission has steadfastly voted to back Munilla’s ongoing legal protest that has held up an $800 million federal project to build a new I-395 bridge downtown.
The Munilla firm is owned by a large family including Pedro, Jorge, Juan, Pedro Jr., Raul, Fernando, and others. And as their business grew, so did their reputation as rainmakers for local politicos.