The first-ever chief integrity officer in Miami-Dade County was hired this month “to promote transparency and integrity throughout county government.”
Brenda Kuhns Neuman, who served Miami-Dade County for 14 years as an assistant county attorney, a role in which she represented the Department of Public Housing and Community Development, was appointed the new role by mayor Daniella Levine Cava. Among her new duties is to help create a stronger foundation of truth in and around county politics.
Hiring integrity officers is becoming a popular practice with corporations and organizations to actively weed out dishonest behavior, specifically corruption. These professionals often work toward showing communities that a company is committed to creating an environment for integrity to thrive. Integrity officers also help to strengthen an organization’s ethics, and in so doing, boost credibility and trust.
Levine Cava has brought that strategy to the county political space, and given recent history, Kuhns Neuman’s hiring may have come at the right time.
In 2022 alone, the Miami-Dade County government dealt with corrupt lawyers making up billing charges and commissioners charged with multiple counts of fraud taking away the trust of the people who elected and hoped to work with them.
In 2019, Miami was named the fifth most corrupt city in the United States, according to a report from the University of Illinois at Chicago. That same year, the FBI arrived in Miami to start an International Corruption Squad. The data is based on federal convictions going as far back 1976.
Kuhns Neuman, who graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Florida in 1996, and with a Juris Doctor degree from Florida International University in 2006, spoke about her eagerness to continue and expand her work for the county in the mayor’s press release.
“I’m eager to take on this new role working in partnership with the mayor and her team to build community trust in local government,” she said.
However, Miami-Dade locals have questions about Neuman’s qualifications.
“Nothing in the person’s bio suggests an inclination for transparency,” a Miami Beach resident said in a tweet. “Not like she made the attorney’s office less transparent, or any other agency.”
Other locals have also taken to social media to express their concern about the county’s new role.
“The Miami-Dade Ethics Commission can’t even instill ethics or integrity in Miami Governments,” Daniel Suarez, a former member of the civilian investigative panel, said in a tweet the day Kuhns Neuman was hired.
Levine Cava, however, has assured residents about her decision.
“I’m very proud that Brenda will join our team and work across departments to make the County’s work more transparent and accessible,” she said in the release.
Kuhns Neuman has represented the county’s law enforcement professionals and defended the county in employee disciplinary actions and expressed her usefulness to the role.
“Throughout my career in public service, I’ve proudly worked to help provide essential services to Miami-Dade residents,” she said.
Correction: Earlier versions of this story misspelled Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava’s name.