The chairman of the Florida Hispanic Legislative Caucus sent a blistering letter Wednesday to Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross demanding an apology for his political action against Hispanic lawmakers who opposed a stadium deal earlier this year.
Ross recently set up the “Florida Jobs First” political action committee to raise money for Gov. Rick Scott’s reelection bid and attack legislators who weren’t sold on the proposal to let Miami-Dade County voters decide whether to increase the county’s hotel bed tax to help underwrite a $350 million Sun Life Stadium renovation.
“We understand that you certainly have a right to express your discontentment,” Sen. Rene Garcia, R-Hialeah wrote two days after reports of Ross forming the PAC. “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 accused Ross of “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.
Garcia also suggested that Ross’ political moves might 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, responded, “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.”
He continued, saying House 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.
The News Service of Florida contributed to this story.