Former Miami Commissioner Sabina Covo under investigation on bribery allegations, records show

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Former Miami City Commissioner Sabina Covo is under investigation regarding allegations of bribery, according to an executive order from Gov. Ron DeSantis’s office.

The existence of the investigation was made public through the Feb. 1 executive order, which stated that Covo is being investigated on allegations of bribery and “remuneration by candidate for services, support, etc.” The purpose of the executive order was to allow Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernández Rundle to recuse herself from the case because a key witness is a “close associate of the state attorney’s office.”

The order did not reveal the identity of the witness.

“[Rundle], to avoid a conflict of interest or any appearance of impropriety, has voluntarily disqualified herself,” the order states.

DeSantis approved the transition of the case to Broward State Attorney Harold Pryor.

Covo told the Miami Herald on Saturday that she has yet to be informed of the investigation or contacted by authorities.

“This is quite surprising ... ” Covo said in a text message. “I led with the highest ethics and integrity and any review of my tenure, including my campaigns will confirm as such.”

Covo said she did not know what the allegations entailed, and the executive order did not explain further.

Covo was elected to a shortened term in February 2023 to fill then-Commissioner Ken Russell’s District 2 seat when he resigned following an unsuccessful bid for Congress. She was in the role for less than a year before Damian Pardo defeated her in last year’s election for the seat.

Covo said she is now in contact with a lawyer and “will continue to seek advice on the best path forward to ensure that I am properly cleared.”

“This is incredibly disappointing,” she added.

A spokesperson for the Broward State Attorney’s Office said the office does not comment on pending investigations.

The Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office and DeSantis’ office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Allegations from a former candidate

After the existence of the investigation became public Saturday, former City Commission candidate James Torres — who ran against Covo for the District 2 seat last year — told the Herald that he believes the case is related to allegations he made against Covo months ago.

Torres was among the candidates in a crowded race that was ultimately decided in a runoff election between Covo and Pardo, who won on an anti-corruption platform.

In the days before the second vote, Torres went on documentarian Billy Corben’s podcast, Because Miami, and alleged that Covo had offered him a city job in exchange for his endorsement after he failed to qualify for the runoff. In response, Covo denied any wrongdoing, telling the Miami New Times the claims were “categorically and unequivocally false.”

Torres said Saturday that he was summoned to the state attorney’s office for an interview on the subject following his appearance on Corben’s show. Torres said he is under orders not to provide more information.

“The wheels of justice are turning,” Torres told the Herald. “I just hope justice is served for the greater good of our community and the political system as a whole.”

Covo did not specifically respond to Torres’ allegations when asked Saturday.