In Miami Beach, getting pulled over by city police didn’t just mean a ticket for some drivers. Officers also gave them an invitation to visit a website selling Trump 2024 products.
A city police flyer in circulation until last week explaining how to resolve minor tickets online has dropped a crucial hyphen for a Miami-Dade County Courts website, keeping drivers away from a bland legal portal to an online store selling flags, videos and caps celebrating former President Donald Trump and his potential third run for the White House.
Deals on miamidadeclerk.com include Trump 2024 camouflage caps, a DVD exploring the possibility of “one-world centralized government” without Trump in the White House, and two Trump-themed flags with the obscenity “F** *” (one paired with “Biden”, the other with “Your feelings”.)
“We are aware of this typographical error now,” Miami Beach Police Department spokesman Ernesto Rodriguez said of the flyers Monday. “We have sent a notice to agents to stop using them.”
After the Miami Herald inquired about the flyers, Rodriguez said police administrators removed them last week from a room at headquarters where officers were picking up documents. A Herald reader who asked not to be identified provided a copy of the fact sheet she said she received during a traffic stop.
The flyer has both the wrong (miamidadeclerk.com) and the right address (miami-dadeclerk.com) for the county court site, each in different parts of the instructional information.
The unhyphenated site does not appear to be linked to any official entity of the former president or his political apparatus as he prepares for a possible 2024 campaign. Instead, the link miamidadeclerk.com redirects instantly to an online store at findsale.com. Click on the Trump merchandise there, and users are taken to an Amazon page where merchandise branded as “Trump 2024” is on sale.
Court administrators said Miami Beach — where President Joe Biden won 60% of the 2020 presidential vote — appears to be the only agency with the typo in the type of fliers that began circulating throughout the county in May 2020 to promote new online options. The program was rolled out as courts grappled with restrictions and health concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The fact sheets describe a new remote method of resolving stationary citations, such as having a faulty brake light or being unable to produce a vehicle registration. Rather than going to court, drivers can upload evidence online that the situation is corrected and a hearing officer can dismiss the case.
“You don’t have to go to court,” Miami-Dade Circuit Court Administrator Judge Steve Leifman said. “You save a lot of money.”
A court spokesperson provided the original flyer sent to Miami-Dade police in May 2020 which included the website address with an appropriate hyphen in all citations. Miami Beach produced its own version of the notices and the error was inserted at some point during the printing process, Rodriguez said. He could not say how long the flyers had been in circulation or how many drivers had received them.
Leifman, a state system judge, called it unfortunate that the goods site appears to have the preferable address, without the need to use internal hyphenated punctuation. The judge called it “disgusting” to see political wares being sold on a web address with a judicial plating. Leifman said he hopes the Registrar’s Office can take ownership of the site and direct it to the system’s official webpage.
A database of website information shows that someone first registered with miamidadeclerk.com in 2007, but the records do not reveal the owner of the address. The real Clerk’s website, miami-dadeclerk.com, was registered in 1999. The Miami-Dade Clerk’s Office – an agency independent of the state’s circuit court system and headed by elected county clerk Harvey Ruvin – registered his properly composed site in 1999, according to the registry.
Since removing the flyers from distribution last week, Miami Beach has told police to hand out dated pamphlets with tickets that don’t include the new options to avoid court for non-moving violations. Rodriguez said drivers will still learn about these options when they visit the court’s website, and new flyers with just the appropriate web address are in the works.
The afternoon’s notice to police to stop giving drivers the faulty leaflets included no explanation of what was wrong. The February 9 email was in the subject line “COVID-19 Traffic Instruction Mailer” and stated: “Hello, effective immediately, do not not use the traffic ad below and use the regular traffic brochure. Thank you.”
This story was originally published February 15, 2022 12:13 p.m.