Posts Tagged ‘Marco Rubio’

Trump chooses Lt. Gov. Lopez-Cantera’s brother-in-law to be next U.S. Marshal

Wednesday, April 18th, 2018

By Dan Christensenl and Francisco Alvarado
FloridaBulldog.org
President Trump’s nominee to become the next U.S. Marshal in South Florida is the brother-in-law of Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera. The nomination of Gadyaces Serralta, a Miami-Dade police major, for the $160,000-a-year job was sent to the Senate last week for confirmation.
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Florida House Democrats demand Rick Scott speak up on CBO’s scoring of GOP health care plan

Thursday, March 16th, 2017

Since the Congressional Budget Office said the Republican health care plan would raise the ranks of the uninsured by 14 million people next year earlier this week, Gov. Rick Scott has been silent.
Florida House Democrats are now calling him out for his sudden reluctance to weigh in on a subject he’s never been shy about talking about before.
The governor has been a major critic of the Affordable Care Act and traveled to Washington last week to meet with President Donald Trump, Sen. Marco Rubio, and House Speaker Paul Ryan to discuss the American Health Care Act.
Scott told reporters later he was “encouraged” about the Act, adding that it was still a “work in progress.”
But after the CBO came out with their score card earlier this week that said that the GOP plan would raise the number of uninsured to 24 million over a decade and could have a huge impact on Florida’s Medicaid program, the governor has been silent.
Florida House Democrats now say it’s time for him to speak up.
“Rather than acting as a leader, the Governor took the path of a typical politician and ducked the question entirely,” says House Democratic Leader Janet Cruz. “If Governor Scott isn’t prepared to defend ‘Trumpcare,’ he at least owes Floridians an explanation about what exactly he’s been discussing with Republican leadership during his taxpayer funded trips to Washington DC.”
“Trumpcare would rip the rug out from under the millions of Floridians who have gained access to quality, affordable health care under the ACA,” says Coral Gables Rep. Daisy Baez. “This would be incredibly harmful to the overall health and well-being of all Floridians, and they deserve to know where Governor Scott stands on this issue.”
Democrats note that Florida leads the nation in those finding coverage through the insurance exchanges established by the Affordable Care Act, with over 1.6 million Floridians signing up during this year’s

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Marco Rubio says ‘Snoop shouldn’t have done it’ regarding video featuring fake Trump assassination

Tuesday, March 14th, 2017

Noted hip-hop aficionado Marco Rubio is weighing in on rapper Snoop Dogg’s controversial new music video “Lavender,” that features the rapper firing a toy gun at a clown dressed as Donald Trump.
“Snoop shouldn’t have done that,” the Florida Senator told TMZ on Monday. “You know we’ve had presidents assassinated before in this country, so anything like that is really something people should really careful about.”
“I think people can disagree on policy but we’ve got to be really careful about that kind of thing, because the wrong person sees that and gets the wrong idea, and you can have a real problem, so you know, I’m not sure what Snoop is thinking. He should think about that a little bit.”
The song is a remix of the electro-psych tune by BadBadNotGood and Kaytranada.
Snoop (whose real name is Calvin Broadus) elaborated on the video concept in an interview with Billboard, criticizing police brutality and President Trump’s policies, saying,”The ban that this motherfucker tried to put up; him winning the presidency; police being able to kill motherfuckers and get away with it; people being in jail for weed for 20, 30 years and motherfuckers that’s not black on the streets making money off of it – but if you got color or ethnicity connected to your name, you’ve been wrongfully accused or locked up for it, and then you watching people not of color position themselves to get millions and billions off of it,” he said.
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Search for next FDP executive director narrows

Sunday, March 12th, 2017

The choice to succeed Scott Arceneaux as executive director of the Florida Democratic Party is between Jonathan Ducote and Josh Wolf, sources tell FloridaPolitics.
Political consultant Jackie Lee and former state legislator Reggie Fullwood were also in the mix, but reportedly are now out of contention for the position.
Ducote has served as political director for the Florida Justice Association since 2014. He previously served as campaign manager for Loranne Ausley’s unsuccessful 2010 bid for CFO, as financial director for Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown’s 2011 election campaign victory, and as campaign manager for Barbara Buono’s unsuccessful challenge to Chris Christie in the 2013 New Jersey gubernatorial election.
Wolf most recently served as campaign manager for Patrick Murphy’s U.S. Senate bid. Prior to that, he served as campaign manger for Steve Grossman’s unsuccessful 2014 campaign for governor in Massachusetts.  In 2012, he managed U.S. Rep. Ami Bera’s successful campaign in California.
Arceneaux’s departure after more than seven years as executive director was announced in January, shortly after Coconut Grove developer and fundraiser Stephen Bittel was elected as chairman.  His tenure as executive director had been contentious in recent years, as some Democrats openly wondered why he had maintained his position while the state continued to lose statewide elections.
Arceneaux was initially hired during Karen Thurman’s tenure back in 2009. He lasted through the regimes of Rod Smith and Allison Tant.
2016 proved to be another desultory year for Florida Democrats. After being a blue state for two successive presidential elections, Republican Donald Trump eked out a narrow but clear cut victory over Hillary Clinton, while Marco Rubio easily defeated Murphy to maintain his seat in the Senate.
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Protests at Marco Rubio’s office say focus is on access, not booting him

Tuesday, March 7th, 2017

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio lost leases on his offices in Tampa and Jacksonville in part because of landlord’s impatience with the incessant barrage of protests out front.
Is Orlando next?
The plaza in front of the downtown Orlando office building housing Rubio’s Central Florida office was the site of another protest Tuesday, as it has been almost every Tuesday this year.
This time, it was For Our Future and other groups pressing a combination of state, local and federal liberal causes as part of the statewide Awake The State rallies.
The building itself was occupied by protesters for most of a day and night last July when more than a hundred people staged a sit-in, demanding that Rubio consider gun restrictions in response to the horrific massacre at the Pulse nightclub just a couple miles away. Ten protesters were arrested for refusing to leave that night.
On Monday to the Florida Times-Union (and again Tuesday morning for FloridaPolitics.com), a Rubio spokeswoman in Jacksonville charged that the leases were yanked not because protesters were explicitly targeting the Republican senator but because they were targeting President Donald Trump,  using Rubio’s offices as a platform.
“For the second time in another major region of the state, the unruly behavior of some anti-Trump protesters is making it more inconvenient for Floridians to come to our local office to seek assistance with federal issues,” Christine Mandreucci asserted in a statement she had earlier provided to the Times-Union.
Orlando’s protesters aren’t entirely disputing that Rubio is not the primary target of their ire, but said as long as the senator refuses to respond to them they would assume he is doing nothing to address their concerns. Tuesday’s protest, for example, largely focused on state lawmakers and Trump, though most speakers called on Rubio to get involved in issues ranging from health care to Muslim

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‘Anti-Trump’ protesters blamed for impending Marco Rubio Jacksonville office move

Tuesday, March 7th, 2017

President Donald Trump apparently is the gift that keeps on giving for Sen. Marco Rubio.
On Monday evening, the Florida Times-Union reported that for a second time in a week, protesters have forced Sen. Rubio from one of his regional offices.
Rubio’s team is working to find new space in Tampa, and now faces a similar challenge in Jacksonville, after a decision was made to terminate the Rubio office’s lease because of what the T-U calls “daily protests” outside.
Worth noting: Rubio’s Jacksonville office is located next to a children’s behavioral clinic, a location which apparently factored into the decision-making matrix.
Rubio spokesperson Christine Mandreucci, meanwhile, suggests that the protesters aren’t exactly protesting the senator after all.
“For the second time in another major region of the state, the unruly behavior of some anti-Trump protesters is making it more inconvenient for Floridians to come to our local office to seek assistance with federal issues,” Mandreucci asserted, in a statement she had earlier provided to the Florida Times-Union.
The statement goes on to assert (a few sentences later) that “those who disagree with President Trump and Senator Rubio certainly have a right to exercise their First Amendment rights…”
However, the construction of the statement is worth noting, in light of the gap some perceive between Rubio’s campaign-trail promises to act as a “check and balance” against the president.‎
When we asked for examples of meaningful daylight between the positions of Rubio and Trump on issues of concern to protesters, or examples of what the T-U story was missing in terms of context, they were not immediately forthcoming.
Rather, we were re-referred to the Tampa Bay Times article linked above, and told that “protesters are part of the Indivisible group, a liberal group that literally follows a guide that outlines ways to resist President Trump and his ideas.”
Are protesters objecting to Sen. Rubio? To the Trump agenda? Do

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An angry weekend follows on heels of frustrations for Donald Trump

Monday, March 6th, 2017

President Donald Trump started his weekend in Florida in a fit of anger over his young administration getting sidetracked just days after his most successful moment in office. He returned to the White House late Sunday derailed — again.
Trump’s frustration appeared to be both the symptom and the cause of his recent woes. Angry about leaks, errant messaging and his attorney general landing in hot water, he fired off a series of tweets that only ensured more distractions.
His staff had hoped to build on the momentum generated by his speech to Congress by rolling out his revamped travel ban and, potentially, unveiling his health care plan. Those efforts rapidly unraveled, sparking more staff infighting and enraging a president loath to publicly admit a mistake and eager to shift the blame onto others.
And now, as Trump begins one of the most pivotal weeks yet for his presidency, his staff is facing the fallout from another allegation of close ties to Russia and the president’s unsubstantiated claims that his predecessor ordered him wiretapped during the campaign.
Trump simmered all weekend in Florida before returning to Washington ahead of signing new immigration restrictions, according to associates who spoke to the president and, like others interviewed, requested anonymity to discuss private conversations. Those close to Trump said it was the angriest he’s been as president, his rage bursting to the surface at his senior staff Friday afternoon in the Oval Office.
Trump was furious about the negative impact of the flap over Attorney General Jeff Sessions‘ meetings with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. He told one person he personally felt let down that his senior staff were unable to fight back against the story. He also suggested he felt that Sessions’ move to recuse himself from any investigation into administration links to Russia felt like

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Bill Nelson holds early lead over Rick Scott (44%-38%) in U.S. Senate race

Monday, March 6th, 2017

A poll released Monday from the University of North Florida shows Sen. Bill Nelson ahead of Gov. Rick Scott in a hypothetical match-up for Florida’s U.S. Senate seat.
Meanwhile, the favorability ratings of both Sen. Marco Rubio and President Donald Trump are both underwater.
Nelson is up by six points (44 percent to 38 percent) over Scott, with 12 percent undecided.
Nelson’s personal favorability is +14 (42 percent approval, against 28 percent disapproval). Scott’s is + 6, with 46 percent of those surveyed approve of Scott, and 40 percent disapproving.
UNF Polling Director Michael Binder describes the six-point spread as “meaningful,” as “Rick Scott’s alliance with Donald Trump will likely factor into this election’s outcome next year.”
Currently, Trump is underwater with Florida voters, with 44 percent approval compared to 51 percent disapproval. In fact, 44 percent of Florida registered voters surveyed strongly disapprove of the president.
Meanwhile, Rubio ebbs even below that -7 net rating, with an anemic 40 percent approval against 48 percent disapproval.
Florida voters are even more sour on the performance of the Congress: 65 percent disapproval, against 28 percent approval.
UNF polled 973 people — 27 percent on landlines — between the dates of Feb. 13 and Feb. 26. The asserted margin of error is 3 percent.
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Combative House Speaker vows contentious Session

Sunday, March 5th, 2017

The outcome of this year’s Florida Legislature session may depend largely on a 51-year-old firebrand attorney with a deep conservative streak and a love for cigars and the band U2.
New House Speaker Richard Corcoran has taken on rapper Pitbull, gotten in a knock-down fight with fellow Republican Gov. Rick Scott and vowed to keep legislators in session for months if he doesn’t get his way on property taxes.
He has an ambitious agenda for the 60-day session that starts next week, which also includes term limits for Florida’s most senior judges and throwing out some of the state’s regulations on health care providers. While at one time he lashed out at then-candidate Donald Trump, Corcoran has adopted the president’s populist tone in vowing to fight a “culture of corruption” in a town where Republicans have held sway for nearly 20 years.
Corcoran is unapologetic for his combative ways.
“I think certainly in the political arena, that the hardest thing, in my opinion, that determines a person’s character is what a man does when everyone is looking and you know you are going to go against the grain,” he said last month at a Tallahassee private school appearance.
Corcoran has flummoxed fellow Republicans and stirred speculation he’s more interested in grabbing headlines in anticipation of a potential run for governor in 2018. Corcoran has declined to discuss future political plans.
“Richard is not a political opportunist, he’s never been one,” said Mike Fasano, the Pasco County tax collector and a former legislator who met Corcoran nearly 35 years ago when he was a teenager helping out on local legislative campaigns. “He’s trying to accomplish what he truly believes in.”
Born in Toronto, Corcoran moved to Florida when he was 11. At a young age, he became enamored of conservative thinkers such as author William F. Buckley Jr.,

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Donald Trump meets with 4th graders, private school leaders in Orlando

Friday, March 3rd, 2017
[The following is drawn from pool reports provided by Ted Mann, reporter for The Wall Street Journal.] Accompanied by U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Florida Gov. Rick Scott, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and others, President Donald Trump dropped in on a Catholic school 4th-grade class the met with Orlando Diocese leaders Friday to talk about school choice.
With the 4th grade class of Jane Jones at St. Andrew Catholic School, Trump, who also was accompanied by his daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner, heard the students declare they were “scholars” and would be going to college and heaven.
St. Andrew is located in the largely-African American and low-income Pine Hills neighborhood of west Orange County, and some though not all of the students there are African-American.
Trump complimented them as “beautiful” and asked a few questions and advised them to “make a lot of money, right? But don’t go into politics after,” before moving on, after about 15 minutes, to a 2 p.m. meeting with Bishop John Noonan, from the Orlando Catholic Diocese, Henry Fortier, the superintendent of Catholic schools in Orlando, and others involved in private, parochial and charter schools.
Fortier told him he saw school choice creating “a partnership. It’s not a situation of us versus them,” he said. Of private schools, he said, “It shouldn’t be just for the wealthy who can afford it.”
John Kirtley, founder of Step Up for Students, which administers school choice aid, said the program provides tuition assistance for 100,000 kids, and that the average household income is $24,000 per year.
Trump said the school was doing a “fantastic job” and that it’s a school that “enriches both the mind and the soul. That’s a good education.”
He quoted Martin Luther King, saying that he “hoped that inferior education would become a thing of the past.”
Trump noted that he had said during his

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Hospitals hopeful on Medicaid following meeting with D.C. delegation

Thursday, March 2nd, 2017

Florida’s congressional delegation is onboard with efforts by hospitals that provide charity care to persuade the Trump administration to treat the state more fairly under the Medicaid program, representatives said following meetings in Washington.
Members of the Safety Net Hospital Alliance of Florida met this week with senators Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson, and with House members Carlos Curbelo, Stephanie Murphy, and Ted Yoho, and with aides to other members of the delegation.
“We had a very warm reception at Sen. Rubio’s office. He was very well aware that Florida gets short-changed in our funding for the uninsured, and was energized,” Lindy Kennedy, executive vice president of the alliance, said during a conference call Thursday.
Rubio warned that Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price was still organizing his management team, but promised the delegation “would do everything in their power” to press the hospitals’ case.
“Sen. Nelson was very gracious, spent a lot of time with us,” Kennedy said.
“He acknowledged the challenging, rock-and-a-hard place position that Florida’s hospitals now find themselves in, having aggressively worked with the federal government as well as our state Legislature to request passage of Medicaid expansion,” she said.
“He seemed to understand that we need to move forward with sort of the hand we’ve been dealt, was the way that he put it.”
Curbelo wants to write a letter from the delegation to Price. That’s not a sure thing, but “there is some interest in trying to pull that together,” Kennedy said.
But the state’s elected representatives understand the problem and want to help.
“That was a consistent theme with Congressman Yoho and Stephanie Murphy,” she said.
The representatives met with staff for Ron DeSantis, Mario Diaz-Balart, Francis Rooney, Tom Rooney, Dennis Ross, and Daniel Webster. Individual hospital representatives may have met with additional members of Congress.
“I understand they were very well received,” Kennedy

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Marco Rubio not ready to say Jeff Sessions should recuse himself regarding Russian meetings

Thursday, March 2nd, 2017

Marco Rubio wants to know more about why Attorney General Jeff Sessions failed to disclose that he met twice with the Russia’s U.S. Ambassador during the presidential campaign.
Despite that, the Florida senator isn’t willing to say that he should recuse himself from investigating ties between Donald Trump‘s surrogates and intermediaries for the Russian government.
Not yet anyway, despite the fact Sessions said in his Senate confirmation hearing last month that he’d never met any Russian officials during Trump’s campaign.
“We’re not at that stage yet,” Rubio said speaking with Steve Inskeep Thursday morning on NPR’s Morning Edition. “Let’s take this one step at a time, but this is certainly a relevant story. I want to learn more about it, and I want to learn more about it, and I want to hear from him directly.”
The Florida Senator went on to say that “in the interest of fairness, and in his best interests, should potentially ask someone else to step in and play that role. Again, we’re not there yet, but we could be, and so we just need to start thinking about those things.”
The Washington Post reported Wednesday that one of the meetings between Sessions and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak that took place in September in the senator’s office, at the height of what U.S. intelligence officials say was a Russian cyber campaign to upend the U.S. presidential race.
Sessions himself told NBC News today that if it were appropriate, he would recuse himself. However, Sessions insisted that he had not met “with any Russians at any time to discuss any political campaign.”
Two House Republicans — Utah’s Jason Chaffetz and California’s Kevin McCarthy, said on Thursday that Sessions should recuse himself from any investigation regarding the Russians.
“I’m not interested in being part of a witch hunt, but I also will not be a part of a cover-up,” Rubio told NPR, adding that “Nobody has been tougher on the Russia issue than I have, I believe, and

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Charlie Crist calls for Jeff Sessions to resign after reports of meeting with Russian ambassador surface

Thursday, March 2nd, 2017

St. Petersburg Democratic Representative Charlie Crist is calling for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to resign, a day after published reports surfaced that Sessions met twice with the Russian Ambassador to the U.S. during the president campaign last year, and yet said last month that he had not done so.
The Washington Post reported Wednesday that one of the meetings between Sessions and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak that took place in September in the senator’s office, at the height of what U.S. intelligence officials say was a Russian cyber campaign to upend the U.S. presidential race. Sessions did not disclose those meetings during his confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee, where he was asked about ties between Trump’s campaign and the Kremlin.
“As the former Attorney General of Florida, I find Attorney General Sessions’ actions inexcusable, and call for his immediate resignation. How can we have faith that the duties of the office of the Attorney General will be carried out when the chief legal officer of the country doesn’t tell the truth under oath to the United States Congress,” said Crist. “It is clear that we need to establish an independent, 9/11-style commission to investigate this administration’s Russian connections. The American people demand answers, and we have a responsibility to get to the truth of this Russian imbroglio.”
Crist had previously said that there should be a 9/11-style commission to investigate potential ties between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.
Earlier on Thursday, the man Crist lost to in the race for U.S. Senate in 2010, Marco Rubio, would not even go as far as to say that Sessions should recuse himself from any investigations regarding the potential Russian-Donald Trump campaign connection.
“We’re not at that stage yet,” Rubio said speaking with Steve Inskeep Thursday morning on NPR’s Morning Edition. “Let’s take this one step at a time, but this is certainly a relevant story. I want to

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Marco Rubio’s staff now actively looking for office space in Tampa

Tuesday, February 28th, 2017

In the new year, it’s been the go-to spot for those who are part of “The Resistance” – activists against Donald Trump and GOP establishment now in control of all branches of the federal government.
We’re talking about Florida Senator Marco Rubio’s Tampa District office in the Westshore area, where protestors have gathered on a weekly basis since early January.
But no more.
That’s because the landlords at the Bridgeport Center at 5201 Kennedy Blvd. – America’s Capital Partners – notified Rubio’s office on Feb. 1 that it will not renew his lease because the weekly protests are too disruptive to the other tenants and are costly for the company.
The story was originally reported by the Tampa Bay Times.
“Our lease has expired and the building management informed us they would not be renewing it,” Rubio spokeswoman Christina Mandreucci said in a statement sent to SPB. “We are actively looking for new office space, and our goal is to remain accessible and continue providing prompt and efficient service to all Floridians. Until we find a permanent new home in the Tampa Bay area, we will have a representative from our Tampa Bay office available to assist constituents on a daily basis and reachable at 1-866-630-7106.”
Not only has the small sidewalk in front of Rubio’s Tampa office been the site of regular protests against the Florida Senator, it’s where protestors went to back on the night of January 28 to protest President Trump’s executive order temporarily banning citizens from some predominantly Muslim nations from coming to the United States. Those activists had originally gone to Tampa International Airport, where similar protests were taking place across the nation, but we’re told that they could not protest on private property.
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Marco Rubio’s staff now actively looking for office space in Tampa

Tuesday, February 28th, 2017

In the new year, it’s been the go-to spot for those who are part of “The Resistance” – activists against Donald Trump and GOP establishment now in control of all branches of the federal government.
We’re talking about Florida Senator Marco Rubio’s Tampa District office in the Westshore area, where protestors have gathered on a weekly basis since early January.
But no more.
That’s because the landlords at the Bridgeport Center at 5201 Kennedy Blvd. – America’s Capital Partners – notified Rubio’s office on Feb. 1 that it will not renew his lease because the weekly protests are too disruptive to the other tenants and are costly for the company.
The story was originally reported by the Tampa Bay Times.
“Our lease has expired and the building management informed us they would not be renewing it,” Rubio spokeswoman Christina Mandreucci said in a statement sent to SPB. “We are actively looking for new office space, and our goal is to remain accessible and continue providing prompt and efficient service to all Floridians. Until we find a permanent new home in the Tampa Bay area, we will have a representative from our Tampa Bay office available to assist constituents on a daily basis and reachable at 1-866-630-7106.”
Not only has the small sidewalk in front of Rubio’s Tampa office been the site of regular protests against the Florida Senator, it’s where protestors went to back on the night of January 28 to protest President Trump’s executive order temporarily banning citizens from some predominantly Muslim nations from coming to the United States. Those activists had originally gone to Tampa International Airport, where similar protests were taking place across the nation, but we’re told that they could not protest on private property.
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Joe Negron, Pulse mother and doctor, a DREAMer, among Trump address to Congress guests

Tuesday, February 28th, 2017

As is traditional, Florida’s congressional delegation is using its invite tickets to President Donald Trump‘s first address to a joint session of Congress mostly to make points, although U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson is maybe making his points with his wife.
Each member of Congress gets one SOTU invitation to pass out. Democrat Nelson’s goes to his wife of 44 years, Grace Nelson.
Republican U.S. Sen Marco Rubio‘s bringing Florida Sen. President Joe Negron, who is in Washington this week for meetings with Rubio and other state legislators regarding federal-state issues.
Democratic U.S. Rep. Val Demings of Orlando is bringing Christine Leinonen, mother of Christopher Leinonen, who was one of the 49 victims killed in the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando. Leinonen has been sharply critical of Trump for using the June 12, 2016, Pulse shooting to justify an immigration crackdown, particularly on Muslims.
Democratic U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy of Winter Park is bringing Dr. Marc Levy, Orlando Regional Medical Center surgeon who saved the lives of victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting last summer. Levy has called for more scientific and medical research on gun violence – from root causes to improved medical treatment.
Democratic U.S. Rep. Darren Soto of Orlando is bringing a potential DREAMer, a recent graduate of the University of Florida named Jose who migrated from Honduras to the United States at the age of 11 with his parents. Jose is seeking to avoid deportation through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policies of former President Barack Obama, which Trump stated he intends to rescind.
No word yet on what Republican U.S. Reps. Ron DeSantis, Bill Posey and Daniel Webster intend to do with their tickets.
 
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Marco Rubio joins Tammy Baldwin in bill requiring Nazi art theft restitution

Monday, February 27th, 2017

Florida’s Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio has joined with Democrat Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin in a bill that would force return of or restitution for art and other belongings stolen by Nazis from Jews in the Holocaust.
The bill, entitled ‘‘Justice for Uncompensated Survivors Today (JUST) Act of 2017’’ would seek to use the Washington Conference Principles on Nazi-Confiscated Art of 1998 and the Terezin Declaration on Holocaust Assets and Related Issues of 2009 to prosecute claims and return stolen property or award restitution. The United States was a signatory of both treaties.
The bill also would require the State Department to report on certain European countries’ compliance with the goals of the 2009 Terezin Declaration, and what actions those countries are taking to resolve the claims of U.S. citizens.
“Seventy years after World War II, when Nazis and their collaborators illegally confiscated Jews’ property in Central and Eastern Europe, this theft remains a largely unresolved issue and a source of lasting pain for many Holocaust survivors and their heirs,” Rubio stated in a news release. “This bipartisan legislation will help address this lasting injustice from a dark chapter in human history by facilitating the restitution of Jewish communal, private and heirless property. American leadership on this issue is vital, and I’m proud to join Senator Baldwin in introducing this bill.”
The bill is cosponsored by 14 senators split between Democrats and Republicans, ranging from Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts to Orrin Hatch of Utah.
The release states that groups supporting the JUST Act include the World Jewish Restitution Organization, the American Jewish Committee, the Anti-Defamation League, the Jewish Federations of North America, B’nai B’rith International, HIAS refugee assistance organization, and the National Coalition Supporting Eurasian Jewry.
, agreed to June 30, 2009,
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Marco Rubio wimps out on town halls. Are we surprised?

Monday, February 27th, 2017

As we saw during the last campaign, Marco Rubio can be awfully good at not showing up. His latest no-show has nothing to do with his attendance in the U.S. Senate, though. Now, he doesn’t want to show up at town hall meetings because people might be rude.
“They’re not town halls anymore, and I wish they were because I enjoy that process very much, going back to my time as speaker of the house. I hosted over a hundred idea (meetings) around the state,” he said in an interview with CBS4 in Miami.
“But the problem now is – and it’s all in writing, I’m not making this up – what they want is for me to organize a public forum. They then organize three, four, five, six hundred liberal activists in the two counties or wherever I am in the state.”
No, he isn’t making it up.
He is, however, wimping out.
Are we surprised?
Yes, those forums do offer those pesky Florida liberals a rare opportunity to remind Republicans that a whole lot of people want their representatives to protect health care coverage.
This is not some political talking point, either. For these folks, it’s emotional and personal, so they do heckle, they shout, they boo and they are loud. That bothers Florida’s very junior U.S. senator – although it didn’t bother him in 2010 when he was swept in by the tea party wave that wrote the book on heckling, shouting, booing and doing that at high volume.
As a first-time senate candidate, it was OK to be supported by disruptors. Those rallies took place around the country, organized at the grassroots level through websites like the Tea Party Patriots. The plan was to put the “riot” in patriot.
It worked. Rubio was elected.
Facing angry constituents didn’t stop U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis from showing up

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Introducing FloridaPolitics.com’s latest newsletter: ‘The Delegation’

Friday, February 24th, 2017

We admit it; we love a good newsletter.
So with 10 new members in the congressional delegation, a part-time #FloridaMan in the White House, and plenty of Sunshine State connections to the Beltway, we thought it was about time to launch our own newsletter diving into D.C.
Welcome to “The Delegation,” Florida Politics’ weekly roundup of the news from D.C. as it relates to the Sunshine State.
Here you’ll find stories about President Donald Trump, hot takes about Sens. Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio, video of Congressman Neal Dunn bringing a musket to the Capitol and everything in between.
Send us your tips, your thoughts and suggestions. And please be patient while we work out the kinks. We know the ins and outs of Tallahassee, but we’re still learning the tricks of the trade in D.C.
Donald Trump, Month 2: Talks on health care and tax overhaul via Julie Pace of The Associated Press — White House chief of staff Reince Priebus expects a health care plan to emerge in ‘the first few days of March. Pressed on whether the plan would be coming from the White House, Priebus said, “We don’t work in a vacuum.”
Gary Cohn, the former Goldman Sachs banker now serving as Trump’s top economic adviser, and newly sworn-in Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have been leading talks with Republican lawmakers and business leaders on taxes. Neither man has prior government experience. …
One of the biggest questions on Capitol Hill is how involved Trump plans to be in legislative minutia. One GOP leadership aide whose office has been working with the White House described the president as a “big picture guy” … he expected Trump to defer to Capitol Hill on health care … Priebus expects Congress to pass both a tax package and legislation repealing and replacing Obama’s health care law by the end of the year. But the White House’s outward confidence belies major roadblocks on

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GOP leaders get high marks from their Republican base, new Associated Industries of Florida poll shows

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017

Republicans are getting a good report card from Florida voters according to a new poll conducted by Associated Industries of Florida and obtained by Florida politics.
AIF found that 71 percent of likely Republican voters think the state is headed in the right direction, and an astounding 81 percent approve of the job President Donald Trump is doing through his first month in the White House.
The Trump numbers are a far cry from the most recent Gallup national poll on his popularity, which showed him with a 40 percent approval rating on Feb. 17.
Naysayers measured in at 20 percent for the direction of the state and 14 percent for Trump’s job approval, leading to a net 51 percent approval and 67 percent approval, respectively.
Survey participants also had no qualms with Gov. Rick Scott, who garnered 81 percent support compared to 14 percent who said he his performance wasn’t up to snuff.
While Scott and Trump are enjoying glowing reviews from likely Republican voters, second-term U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio isn’t faring as well.
Though 69 percent of those polled said they thought he was doing a good job, the bulk of those supporters said they only “somewhat approved” of the Miami Republican, leaving him with a softer approval rating than Scott or Trump.
AIF surveyed 800 likely Republican voters who had voted in at least one of the last three Republican primaries, but not the presidential preference in 2016. The group said 81 percent of those polled were over 50 years old and 90 percent were white.
The post GOP leaders get high marks from their Republican base, new Associated Industries of Florida poll shows appeared first on Florida Politics.

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Pam Bondi still a rock star with Florida’s GOP voters, new AIF poll shows

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017

Florida’s top lawmakers and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam are struggling with low name identification among likely Republican voters, but that isn’t the case for Attorney General Pam Bondi according to a new poll from statewide business advocate Associated Industries of Florida.
The AIF poll of likely Republican voters obtained by Florida Politics found that 54 percent approve of the job the second-term Attorney General is doing, while just 12 percent have an unfavorable view and 17 percent said they had no opinion.
Among Florida’s top elected Republicans, Bondi’s ratings only trailed Gov. Rick Scott, who had a net 67 percent approval rating, and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, who netted 57 percent approval.

Putnam, who is considered an early frontrunner to take over for Scott, scored 38 percent approval from the same crowd, with 3 percent voicing disapproval and 20 percent saying they had no opinion.
Putnam did come out on top in the mock ballot test for the Republican primary for Florida governor with 22 percent support, though 71 percent said they were undecided. The next highest vote-getter was House Speaker Richard Corcoran with 4 percent support.
AIF also tested the waters for the cabinet positions opening up in 2018, though each scenario featured “undecided” winning over 80 percent of the vote.
In other words, “there’s no news here,” notes Ryan Tyson, Vice President of Political Operations for AIF.
The low level of support for Corcoran likely stems from the fact only 44 percent 0f those polled knew who he was. Of those, 16 percent said approved of the job he was doing, while 4 percent disapproved and 24 percent had no opinion.
Senate President Joe Negron and Senate Appropriations Chair Jack Latvala had even lower name ID than the House Speaker, with just 41 percent and 25 percent recognizing their names, respectively.
Still, both enjoyed relative approval from the Republican

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Schedule confusion characterizes Al Lawson in Jacksonville

Tuesday, February 21st, 2017

U.S. Representative Al Lawson may have had good intentions when choosing to spend the first part of an off week in Jacksonville.
But intentions are one thing. And delivery is another.
Lawson’s itinerary, arrived at last week, was pretty straightforward.
Among other things: the first-term Democrat from Tallahassee was to go to Eureka Garden on Tuesday afternoon, accompanied by Mayor Lenny Curry and Jacksonville City Councilman Garrett Dennis.
However, the plan did not come together.
For one thing, Lawson called an audible and made his Eureka Garden visit on Monday — Presidents’ Day.
Mayor Curry was camping with his family.
Councilman Dennis likewise was busy with personal business.
The end result?
With no local political backup, Lawson arrived with representatives of the management company and police officers inside and outside the community center at the Westside Jacksonville apartment complex.
He spoke in generalities about the improvements on the property, discussing potential collaboration with Sen. Marco Rubio on HUD reform.
Even so, there was a tone deaf quality to his remarks. From “Whenever I get my pay check, I think of you” to  his assertion that Eureka apartments — which made national news for months because of their issues — are “better than [his] apartment in D.C.,” Lawson’s presentation confused media on hand — especially those who have been immersed in the Eureka Garden story.
On Monday, Lawson announced his plans to accompany Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry on a neighborhood walk — something Curry does regularly in neighborhoods left behind by Jacksonville’s progress.
However, those plans were for naught.
Lawson decided to cancel his participation on the walk Tuesday, hours before it was to kick off.
This visit to Jacksonville was pivotal for Lawson, replacing Corrine Brown — who was an effective legislator in terms of constituent service.
Brown was a Jacksonville Congresswoman, no matter how far her district stretched.
Locals, before this week, saw Lawson as a Tallahassee guy.
How do they feel now?
Rep.

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Al Lawson talks HUD reform at Jacksonville’s Eureka Garden

Monday, February 20th, 2017

U.S. Rep. Al Lawson visited Eureka Garden in Jacksonville on Presidents’ Day, and expressed optimism for the building’s current ownership, while suggesting that more comprehensive reform of HUD is needed.
Speaking to tenants in the 400-unit Section 8 complex’s community center, Rep. Lawson addressed the need for federal help allowing tenants to “make a different quality of life,” by making “funding available.”
The congressman will have an important ally across the aisle and in the Senate in this regard.
Lawson discussed a “sitdown” with an old friend: Sen. Marco Rubio, who has been an advocate of HUD reform for over a year, in reaction to the dilapidation at Eureka Garden and other properties once owned by Global Ministries Foundation.
Lawson asserted that Rubio, who said on many occasions that GMF had a “slumlord” approach to property ownership, committed to continue working on HUD reform.
“We want to make sure that they take care of residents,” Lawson said, and “make sure HUD has proper oversight” by “working jointly with HUD to make some changes.”
Among those changes: ensuring that federal dollars go into building maintenance, not into the pockets of ownership — something that was not the case in the past with GMF properties.
“It will take time,” Lawson added, “but we have made the commitment.”
Lawson also joins Rubio in believing that GMF should be held accountable for the conditions they allowed to happen at the Jacksonville apartment complex, though the mechanisms for that accountability are unclear.
Lawson also intends to engage the Donald Trump administration in his quest, vowing to get HUD Secretary Ben Carson to “come down and take a look.”
The Congressman’s approach to the residents of Eureka was jovial and joke-filled.
At one point, Lawson quipped that “every time I get a paycheck, I think about you.”
And at a couple of points, Lawson noted that apartments at

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Marco Rubio to attend meetings in Europe this week – not in Tampa

Monday, February 20th, 2017

While federal workers get Presidents’ Day off, Congress takes off the entire week.
For some lawmakers, that means coming home to host townhall meetings, which for many GOP lawmakers have become contentious affairs.
Others are traveling overseas this week, such as Florida’s U.S. Senator, Marco Rubio.
The recently re-elected Senator is traveling to Europe to speak with officials regarding the U.S. relationship with the European Union, NATO operations and Russian aggression in Europe.
That’s according to Rubio’s Facebook page. The post says that, “Senator Rubio is traveling overseas this week to attend multiple bilateral meetings with heads of state and senior government officials in Germany and France, two countries with upcoming elections who are facing concerns about Russian interference. As a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Appropriations Committee, and Select Committee on Intelligence, Senator Rubio is conducting this official oversight trip to discuss the U.S./E.U. relationship, NATO operations, counter-ISIS activities, foreign assistance programs, and Russian aggression in Europe.”
What that means is that Rubio won’t be attending any townhall events, including one that was created by activists who had hoped he would attend this Wednesday night at the Tampa Letter Carriers Hall.
“Sadly, we have all grown accustom [sic] to our absent Senator,” writes Melissa Gallagher, who created the event on Facebook. She says that the townhall will go on without Rubio.
“The fact his team refuses to even consider him skyping in or connecting with us is beyond disappointing,” she writes.
“As part of the strategy of disruption outlined in their online activist manual, the organizers are deceiving people by falsely advertising this event, which is not connected to us in any way,” responds Rubio spokesman Matt Wolking.
“The protesters – some of whom failed to show up for meetings they scheduled with our staff – continue to fundraise off of it even though we informed them days ago Senator Rubio will not be there,” Wolking says. “We have been fully

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Marco Rubio files bills cracking down on Iran, Russia

Friday, February 17th, 2017

Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio announced Friday that he is sponsoring a pair of bills to crack down on Iran and Russia.
Rubio, along with Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn, Nebraska Republican Sen. Ben Sasse and Georgia Republican Sen. David Perdue, filed a bill to crack down on Iran’s use of commercial aircraft in support of terrorism.
The Iran Terror-Free Skies Act would require the executive branch to regularly report to Congress on whether Iran has used civilian planes for military purposes, such as transporting weapons or military personnel, to terrorist groups within its borders or abroad.
“As the world’s foremost state sponsor of terrorism, Iran continues to systematically use its commercial airlines to supply the murderous Assad regime in Syria as well as to Hezbollah and other foreign terrorist organizations,” Rubio said. “If America turns a blind eye to the Iranian terror regime’s efforts to destabilize the Middle East and endanger the lives of innocents worldwide, we risk being complicit.”
The Miami Republican also joined up with Arkansas Republican Sen. Tom Cotton and Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson on a bill to bring Russia back into compliance with the INF missile treaty.
“Russia’s mounting violations of the INF Treaty, including testing and now brazenly deploying ground-launched cruise missiles with intermediate range, pose grave threats to the United States and our European allies,” Rubio said. “This legislation makes clear that Russia will face real consequences if it continues its dangerous and destabilizing behavior.”
The bill includes provisions to build up missile defense and place intermediate range missile systems within allied countries, among other things.
Texas Republican Rep. Ted Poe and Alabama Republican Rep. Mike Rodgers are sponsoring the bill’s House companion.
 
The post Marco Rubio files bills cracking down on Iran, Russia appeared first on Florida Politics.

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Alexander Acosta announced as Donald Trump’s choice for Labor Secretary

Thursday, February 16th, 2017

Donald Trump‘s latest choice for Labor Secretary has Florida roots.
Alexander Acosta, the Dean of Florida International University College of Law and former attorney for the Southern District of Florida, was announced as the President’s second pick for the position of Labor Secretary on Thursday.
The first choice, Andrew Puzder, was not going to survive a confirmation vote, especially in light of shocking video of Puzder’s ex-wife describing domestic abuse on the Oprah Winfrey show years ago.
Though the former Mrs. Puzder later retracted these allegations, the damage was done. Puzder withdrew from consideration, and Acosta emerged quickly.
Acosta, a Harvard-educated attorney who once served as clerk for Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, has been confirmed by the Senate multiple times, and has served on the National Labor Relations Board. As opposed to many of Trump’s wild card cabinet selections, there should be scant surprise or drama with this nomination.
Acosta, who previously was the first Hispanic assistant attorney general for the U.S. Department of Justice’s civil rights division,  would be the first Hispanic member of the Trump Cabinet if confirmed.
Acosta has support from Florida’s Republican Senator, Marco Rubio, who dined with Trump the evening before.
“I know Alex Acosta well, and he is a phenomenal choice to lead the Department of Labor. Whether it was his distinguished service as U.S. attorney in Florida’s Southern District or as dean of Florida International University’s school of law, Alex has succeeded in all endeavors he has taken on, and managing the Department of Labor will be no different. I look forward to his confirmation hearing, where I’m confident he will impress my colleagues and secure the support necessary to be the next secretary of labor,” Rubio asserted in a statement.
When asked if Acosta was a topic of the Trump/Rubio dinner conversation, Sen. Rubio had this to say.
“We are not going to discuss private

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Marco Rubio to chair Congressional-Executive Commission on China

Thursday, February 16th, 2017

Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio announced Wednesday that he has been appointed chair of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China.
The commission was created in 2000 to monitor human rights and legal issues in China and submit an annual report to the president and Congress.
Rubio previously served as chair of the 23-member body, which includes nine senators, nine representatives and five senior administration officials appointed by the president.
“I am honored to continue leading the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, and I remain committed to exposing the brutality of the Chinese government and the heroic efforts of brave Chinese dissidents,” Rubio said in a news release.
Rubio said the CECC’s political prisoner database contains more than 1,400 active cases of political and religious prisoners and that “the commission will shine a bright light on these abuses and press the Chinese government to change its behavior.”
Also Wednesday, the second-term Florida senator joined Sens. Bob Menendez, Lisa Murkowski and Amy Klobuchar in reintroducing a bill to create a national registry for firefighters diagnosed with cancer
“Firefighters put their lives on the line each and every time they are called on to protect civilians from dangerous fires, making them susceptible to multiple health complications, including cancer,” the Miami Republican said. “I am proud to support a bill that aims to prevent and protect firefighters from deadly diseases.”
The registry, which failed to pass through the last Congress, would create a database of information submitted by health care providers on cancer incidence rates among firefighters and make that de-identified information available to researchers developing safeguards and safety protocols for firefighters.
In addition to the four senators announcing their support for the bill Wednesday, the Firefighter Cancer Registry Act is co-sponsored by Republican Sens. Steve Daines and John McCain, as well as Democrats Ed Markey, Richard Blumenthal, Cory Booker, Al Franken, Charles Schumer,

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Personnel note: Public strategy firm Mercury hires Brian Swensen as senior VP

Tuesday, February 14th, 2017

Global public strategy firm Mercury is adding noted Republican political adviser Brian Swensen to its Florida public affairs team as a senior vice president.
Swensen comes to the firm following his role as deputy campaign manager for the successful re-election of Sen. Marco Rubio, the latest in a series of key political victories in Florida and Louisiana. He his tenure with Mercury began Jan. 19, 2017.
In his new role, Swensen will bring extensive experience in the political arena to provide solutions and winning strategies for the firm’s clients. He will be based in Mercury’s Miami office.
Mercury Florida, now in its fourth year of operation, is led by partner Ashley Walker.
“We are thrilled to welcome Brian, who is one of the leading political operatives in the Southeast region,” Walker said in a statement Tuesday. “Mercury continues to assemble the state’s most talented team of public affairs professionals, and the addition of Brian underscores our commitment to building Mercury into the strongest bipartisan consultancy in the nation.”
“I am excited to work with the incredibly talented team of strategists at Mercury to help address some of the most pressing policy issues facing many organizations and corporations today,” Swensen said. “The Mercury Florida team brings together the state’s top political advisers across party lines.  Nowhere else can you find such deep, diverse skills and experience, and a winning track record to boot.”
“As someone who prides himself on having a great work ethic and outside the box thinking,” he added, “I look forward to unleashing my unique skill set to shape strategy, solve problems, and create wins for our clients.”
Before joining Mercury, Swensen served as deputy campaign manager for Rubio’s re-election campaign, during which he built a political operation that benefited numerous campaigns up and down the ballot, while training and empowering the next generation of

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Marco Rubio re-sharpens condemnation of Putin and any U.S.-Russia deals

Thursday, February 9th, 2017

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio continued his sharp attacks on Russian President Vladimir Putin Thursday calling any potential grand deals “immoral” and “fantasy” while positioning himself to be in staunch opposition to any agreements President Donald Trump may want with Russia.
On Thursday, speaking at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing entitled, “The United States, The Russian Federation and the Challenges Ahead,” Florida’s Republican senator condemned prospects of a grand deal between the Trump administration and Putin involving ISIS, sanctions over Russian hacking, and Ukraine, calling it “a really stupid deal” that would have no chance of forwarding American interests.
Rubio has long been a leading critic of Putin and has made no secret of his strong disagreement with Trump on any warmth Trump may have toward the Russian president, or any prospects for deals. For every tweet Trump has issued defending Putin, Rubio has called out human rights abuses by the Russian leader.
Last fall Rubio was one of the first and most ardent Republicans to disavow any damaging information being leaked about Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton because Rubio was convinced by intelligence reports that the information came from Putin. And last month Rubio severely grilled Trump’s secretary of state nominee Rex Tillerson over his views on Russia, demanding to know if Tillerson would call Putin a war criminal.
Still, Tillerson, who has long, direct business dealings with the Russian government, refused to do so, and Rubio voted to confirm his nomination anyway.
On Thursday Rubio resumed his position as one of the Senate’s most outspoken critic of Putin and any relationship he might have with Trump or Tillerson.
Rubio’s comments came in reference to a “grand bargain” that could ask Putin to fight ISIS in exchange for the lifting of U.S. sanctions against Russia for its cyberattacks against the U.S. and annexation and occupation of Ukrainian territory.
“I think this whole notion of a grand bargain, where

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Activists march at Marco Rubio’s Tampa office, calling to reject Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary

Monday, February 6th, 2017

Last month, Marco Rubio had harsh words for Rex Tillerson when he came before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as Donald Trump‘s pick for Secretary of State. But the Florida senator ultimately went ahead and supported the former ExxonMobil CEO anyway.
Now protesters are hoping Rubio won’t cave on Betsy DeVos.
With the Tillerson turnaround fresh on their minds, more than two dozen activists gathered in front of Rubio’s Tampa district office Monday, urging him to reject DeVos as the next Secretary of Education when her name comes up for a vote Tuesday.
But they are not expecting him to do so.
“Betsy DeVos is totally uneducated, and she’s totally biased,” said Sue Jenkins, a former Wisconsin schoolteacher who spends winters in Port Richey and summers back in the Midwest. She blasted DeVos for her dedication toward vouchers and privatizing education.
“We privatize the schools; we pay them money. Somebody’s going to make a profit.”
Many of those at the protest want Rubio to recuse himself from the vote because he received campaign contributions from DeVos. Then again, so have a lot of other Republicans in Washington.
DeVos admitted as much in her one confirmation hearing, saying “it’s possible” that she and her husband (Dick DeVos Jr.) have given $200 million to candidates over the years. That includes $2.7 million to GOP candidates in the 2016 election cycle alone, including $5,400 to Rubio.
“She’s clearly not qualified,” argued Pam from Madeira Beach. “The only clarity we got from the confirmation hearing is that she’s against public education.”
Last week Rubio tweeted that “many Democratic colleagues tell me they have heavy pressure from left-wing radicals to opposed everything before they know what it is,” irking some of the protesters.

Many Democratic colleagues tell me they have heavy pressure from left wing radicals to oppose everything even before they know what it is
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio)

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