ICYMI: Marco Rubio Caught Violating Senate Ethics Laws, Campaigns In Official Office

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Vulnerable incumbent Senator Marco Rubio was called out last week after being caught conducting campaign business in his official Senate office. Rubio participated in an interview whose “entire substance” was “directly relate[d] to campaigning” while seated at his desk in his Senate office — a violation of Senate Ethics laws that state “Senate space may not be used for any political campaign.” 

Read more:
Florida Politics: Was Marco Rubio dissing Val Demings from his official desk?By Jacob OglesJune 11, 2021

Key Points: 

  • In at least one interview Rubio conducted June 9, the Republican Senator clearly is seated at his desk in the Russell Senate Office Building.
  • The discussion with Spectrum News ended up being presented under the headline “Rubio signals strategy in race against Demings for U.S. Senate.” Conducted hours after Demings announced her Senate candidacy, the entire substance of the interview appeared to directly relate to campaigning.
  • It’s the venue for the remarks that has some picking apart the scenery in the camera background. The language was similar in respects to a statement issued by Rubio’s Senate campaign the same day.
  • Federal officials and staff normally carefully avoid mixing political and government work. In fact, the Senate Ethics Committee Manual explicitly states ”Senate space may not be used for any political campaign” in a section dedicated to “Use of Senate Space.”
  • The Ethics Committee on multiple occasions has offered direction that any “general campaign or campaign fund activities should be conducted outside of the official office space provided Members of Congress.”
  • In contrast, Demings took steps to make clear her House work will not overlap with her Senate campaign. Demings keeps separate Twitter accounts for official business and campaign work. Her official Twitter as of Wednesday had a pinned message making clear it will only handle work “for the People of Florida’s 10th District” and refers all campaign communication to her political handle.

FDP announces new hires and expanded capacity with eyes toward the 2022 election
Miami, Fla— Today, the Florida Democratic Party announced a slate of new senior staff members, highlighting the party’s commitment to building the most robust, statewide, sustainable infrastructure Florida Democrats have had in decades. The new staff will lead the communications, finance, data, legal and organizing teams at the party and include Senior Communications Advisor, Field and Organizing Director, Voter Registration Director, In-House Counsel, Municipal Victory Program Director, Finance Director, and Deputy Finance Director. 
“The Florida Democratic Party is assembling a strong, battle-tested team that knows what has to be done to flip Florida blue. While it is not going to be easy, we are building a team that is ready for the challenge,” said Florida Democratic Party Chair Manny Diaz. “With these hires, we are hitting the ground running and building the long term infrastructure and organizing apparatus that we need to defeat Ron DeSantis and Marco Rubio and elect Democrats up and down the ballot.” 

Florida Democratic Party Executive Director Marcus Dixon added, “I’m excited to have this caliber of talent committed to helping us turn Florida blue by focusing on registering voters, grassroots organizing that builds and rebuilds relationships with members of the community, holding Republicans accountable, and advocating for Democratic values. These hires show our clear commitment to creating the strongest and most effective state party in recent history before the 2022 elections.” 

The new team members are:
Jose Dante Parra – Senior Communications Advisor José Dante Parra is a Democratic strategist. Before his current position, Parra was a senior advisor to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Parra led Sen. Reid’s Hispanic Media efforts during his 2010 reelection in Nevada, when the Latino vote was the largest deciding factor in that swing state, and during a very difficult cycle for Democrats. Parra also served as a Latino communications advisor for President Obama’s 2012 reelection and led the Democratic National Convention’s Hispanic media team. Parra moved to Washington, D.C. in 2007 to work for Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA). Parra’s career started at The Miami Herald and the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, where he covered stories such as the Elian Gonzalez saga and the 2000 Presidential election recount in Florida. In 2003 Parra transitioned to PR and worked at Florida International University in Miami.

Angie Nixon – Field and Organizing Director Angie Nixon has been organizing in the state of Florida for over a decade. She has also served as a political operative on countless campaigns across the country. In 2016, Angie was the African American Deputy Field Director for Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign, with oversight of operations in 5 states. She has also managed multiple campaigns at the local, state legislative, and congressional levels including a successful campaign to elect the first Black mayor of Jacksonville, who was also the first Democrat to win in 20 years. She also worked for years with a (c)4 table overseeing a multi-million dollar independent expenditure program in Florida. Angie is also the current State Representative for Florida House District 14. She was previously the Director for the Florida Public Service Union’s Higher Education Campaign and prior to that was the Florida Field Director for SEIU. Additionally, Angie is the founder of The Moxie Group, a community outreach and social impact firm that focuses on empowering underserved and underrepresented communities. She is a native of Jacksonville and a graduate of Stanton College Prep and the University of Florida.
Jorge Mursuli – Voter Registration Director Jorge has spent his career leading major advocacy and voter engagement campaigns across Florida and the United States. In 1998, Jorge Mursuli led a successful effort to secure the passage of the Miami-Dade County Human Rights Ordinance, making sexual orientation a category protected by law from discrimination. He then joined People For the American Way (PFAW) Foundation and PFAW as the Florida State Director, soon becoming a National Vice President of Hispanic Affairs where he led efforts in election reform, immigration, free speech, and civic engagement. Jorge also founded Democracia USA, a non-partisan civic engagement organization that grew to become one of the most recognized Hispanic voter empowerment, and leadership training programs in the nation. He founded the Latino Donor Collaborative, was the co-founder of the philanthropic Florida Alliance, and was VP and co-founder of Arms with Ethics, working with law enforcement leaders across the country on the reduction of the illegal flow and use of guns.  Born in Cuba, Jorge Mursuli immigrated with this family to Brooklyn, New York and received his BS from the University of Florida. Jorge is a proud Rockwood Fellow, class of 2007.

Ben Tyler – In-House Counsel Ben is a litigator and voting rights advocate who most recently served as a Regional Voter Protection Director for the Biden-Harris Coordinated Campaign in Georgia, where he oversaw the campaign’s voter protection efforts through two statewide recounts in twenty counties. Before heading to Georgia, Ben served on the campaign’s Voter Protection Team in Broward County, Florida. Prior to joining the campaign, Ben served as a law clerk to the Honorable Rodolfo A. Ruiz II in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida and worked as a litigator in Holland & Knight LLP’s Miami office. A native of South Florida, Ben is a graduate of the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University and the University of Notre Dame Law School. 

Vanessa Rolon – Municipal Victory Director Vanessa Rolon is a campaign strategist with almost a decade of on-the-ground campaign experience. Born and raised in Miami, she entered politics as a way to give back to the community she loves. From 2014 to 2016, Vanessa spent time working for candidates in FL-26 and then managed Robert Asensio’s successful campaign for Florida House. Post 2016, campaigns have taken Vanessa to different parts of the country including Delaware, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Maryland, and Virginia. In 2019, Vanessa settled in Virginia working as the Data Director for New Virginia Majority where she contributed to flipping the House of Delegates and State Senate blue for the first time in a generation. 

Kyle Patterson – Finance DirectorKyle is an experienced Democratic fundraiser who has spent time working on congressional campaigns in Kansas and Michigan. He also previously worked as the Finance Director for the North Dakota Democrats. In addition to political fundraising, Kyle has also worked as a budget policy and legislative advisor for the Rhode Island House Finance Committee and the Virginia House Democratic Caucus. He is originally from Kansas and is a University of Kansas alumnus. 

Michelle Sierra – Deputy Finance Director Prior to  joining the Florida Democratic Party, Michelle was the National Finance Assistant on Senator Tammy Duckworth’s re-election campaign, whom she worked with in her previous role as the Northeast Finance Assistant at the DSCC. During her time at the DSCC,  Michelle was part of a three-person finance operation that raised over $24 million from individual donors in eight states. A South Florida native, Michelle has two Bachelor’s degrees from the University of Florida and a certificate in Political Campaigning.

FDP Calls Out Florida Republicans in Light of Supreme Court Decision to uphold the ACA 

FLORIDA— [Yesterday] the Supreme Court of the United States upheld the Affordable Care Act for the 3rd time and with it protected the healthcare of over 2.1 million Floridians. In response, Florida Democratic Party Chair Manny Diaz released the following statement:

“The Supreme Court decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act is a monumental victory for our country and for the 2.1 million Floridians covered by it. Florida has the highest Affordable Care Act enrollment in the nation, yet Attorney General Ashley Moody, Governor DeSantis, and Republican elected officials supported this failed case to take the Affordable Care Act away from Floridians who rely on it.

“To do this while refusing to expand Medicaid to over 900,000 additional Floridians shows the reckless disregard Republicans in Florida have for the health and safety of working families. They continue to choose politics over ensuring healthcare that would cost the state nothing, but would make a world of difference for families experiencing expensive known and unforeseen healthcare costs.”

Featured image: “Marco Rubio – Caricature” by DonkeyHotey is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

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Florida Democrats believe in effective and efficient government that prioritizes quality education, affordable health care, and an economy in which anyone who works hard can succeed.

Most importantly, we believe that we are stronger together. We believe the fundamental American promise — that you can go as far as your own hard work will take you — should shine brightest in Florida.

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From standing for affordable health care and better schools to fighting for civil rights and access to the ballot box, Florida Democrats are leading every day to move our state forward.

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