Wed June 26, 2013
Lawmaker Blasts Dolphins Owner For Stadium Witch Hunt
The chairman of the Florida Hispanic Legislative Caucus blasted the owner of the Miami Dolphins on Wednesday for a political effort aimed at House members who were critical of a plan to upgrade the team's stadium.
The letter from Sen. Rene Garcia, R-Hialeah, came two days after reports about Dolphins owner Stephen Ross forming Florida Jobs First PAC, which has already targeted some Republicans who didn't back legislation allowing Miami-Dade County to ask voters if an existing hotel bed tax could be increased for Sun Life Stadium upgrades this year.
In the letter released Wednesday, Garcia slammed Ross for "recklessly attacking members of the Hispanic Caucus" and demanded an apology.
Lawmakers hit by the PAC's mailers include Reps. Michael Bileca, Jose Felix Diaz and Carlos Trujillo of Miami, according to the Miami Herald.
"We understand that you certainly have a right to express your discontentment; however, directly attacking legislators because of their decision to adhere to their principles in standing with their constituency on an issue directly affecting your own financial viability is reprehensible and certainly condemnable," Garcia wrote.
He also suggested that Ross' political moves might come back to haunt the Dolphins owner.
"Your attacks on our caucus members will undoubtedly compromise any opportunity for collaboration on this issue or any other which may arise in future legislative sessions," wrote Garcia, who voted against the legislation in the Senate.
Eric Jotkoff, a spokesman for Florida Jobs First, dismissed the letter.
"Senator Garcia’s comments will carry as much weight with us as they did in the Senate, where his stance against the referendum was rejected by an overwhelming 35-4 vote," Jotkoff said in a statement. " ... Speaker [Will] Weatherford made clear after blocking the vote that he did it in part because of the Miami-Dade delegation, so we are just following the path he laid out by holding the opponents in the delegation accountable."
Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, has denied blocking a vote on the measure, which did not reach the House floor before the legislative session ended in May. He has said the issue did not get heard by the House Appropriations Committee, lacked support from members of the Miami-Dade delegation and was trailing among voters in Miami-Dade.