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Ethics commission investigating Beckham Miami soccer team deal

A South Florida ethics commission is probing whether ex-soccer star David Beckham – and his partners –broke local law by meeting with public officials during their research into starting a Miami-based soccer team.

The Miami Herald reports the Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics and Public Trust is specifically investigating the propriety of Beckham having dined with Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez without having first registered as a lobbyist before pitching the politician on a proposal that would require official action.

Earlier this month, Beckham confirmed he had exercised an option to purchase a Major League Soccer expansion franchise in Miami for a discount fee of $25 million.

The deal will be finalized when the former English national team captain can secure a financing plan and location for a new stadium.

Beckham’s dinner with Gimenez reportedly occurred on Nov. 12 at the home of Miami-based billionaire investor Marcelo Claure. The Herald reports Beckham’s business partner, Simon Fuller, also attended.

Miami-Dade County law stipulates, according to The Herald, that anyone who “seek(s) to influence an ordinance, resolution, action, decision or recommendation,” on the part of a local public official must register as a lobbyist within five days of a pitch or proposal.

A Beckham spokesman has since said Beckham did not – at that particular moment– need to register as a lobbyist because everyone concerned only spoke of the possibility of bringing an MLS team to Miami in generalities.

“He was checking the city out and seeing what was here — the same way as if the president of IBM came to town and said, ‘Hmm, am I interested in coming to this town?’ “ Neisen  Kasdin told The Herald. “There was no proposed site.”

Kasdin also told the newspaper that Beckham and his associates only began asking about the possibility of situating a new stadium at PortMiami after the dinner occurred, or later in November. Five other sites are also reportedly being considered.

The existence of an ethics investigation was first reported by the local Spanish-language blog Nelson Horta Reporta, according to The Herald.

Click for more from The Miami Herald.