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Rubio campaign asked for donations as Florida dealt with deadly Hurricane Ian

The Florida Republican senator also skipped a key vote on a stopgap bill that funded emergency management and flood insurance.

By Josh Israel - October 07, 2022
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Marco Rubio
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) speaks with reporters as he departs a vote at the U.S. Capitol Sept. 6, 2022. (Francis Chung/E&E News/POLITICO via AP Images)

As parts of Florida endured a deadly hurricane and its aftermath last week, Republican Sen. Marco Rubio’s campaign continued to send out texts asking his constituents to donate to his reelection campaign.

Rubio also missed a Sept. 29 vote in the Senate on a government funding bill that included emergency relief funds for Floridians recovering from Hurricane Ian. The Category 4 storm hit Florida on Sept. 28, killing more than 100 people in the state, destroying homes, washing out bridges, and leaving hundreds of thousands without electrical power for days.

Rubio acknowledged the massive damage and requested federal help, writing on Sept. 30 in a joint letter with his fellow Florida Republican Sen. Rick Scott addressed to the leaders of the Senate Appropriations Committee:

A robust and timely federal response, including through supplemental programs and funding, will be required to ensure that sufficient resources are provided to rebuild critical infrastructure and public services capacity, and to assist our fellow Floridians in rebuilding their lives. These provisions must be made a priority and considered at the earliest opportunity.

But as the storm hit, Rubio’s campaign was still sending out fundraising text messages to prospective donors, including in Florida.

“You must not be a morning person,” the campaign scolded in a message sent at 12:41 p.m. on Sept. 28, the same day the hurricane hit Florida. “Marco texted you earlier and you didn’t respond. Trying 1 more time – please chip in $36.99 right now.”

At 2:30 p.m. the same day, Rubio’s campaign sent a joint fundraising text with the campaign of Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin that said: “Ron Johnson & Marco Rubio here, the MOST vulnerable Senators. We have a HUGE deadline in 2 DAYS & hoped if we both texted, you’d see it’s critical.”

Another text at 5:20 p.m. the same day read, “THE QUARTER 3 DEADLINE IS IN 2 DAYS & MARCO’S $245,965 SHORT. 3X-MATCH IS UNLOCKED ON ALL DONATIONS FOR 10 MINS TO HIT OUR Q3 GOAL… WE’RE BEGGING!”

Similar messages from the Rubio campaign followed over the next few days, decreasing the amount supposedly needed to meet a goal and increasing his contribution match offer.

According to Politico, Rubio’s campaign continued to air campaign ads statewide throughout the storm. The campaign of his Democratic opponent, Rep. Val Demings, stopped showing spots in the areas that were the hardest hit and canceled a planned Monday campaign event.

The temporary spending bill Rubio did not vote on passed and was quickly signed by President Joe Biden. It averted a government shutdown and included funds for emergency management efforts and the federal flood insurance program. Thanks to Biden’s emergency declaration, federal aid is already going to Florida to deal with the storm’s damage.

Scott was one of just 25 senators, all Republicans, who voted against the bill.

A Rubio spokesperson did not immediately respond to an American Independent Foundation inquiry for this story.

Grant Fox, a spokesperson for the Florida Democratic Party, said in a statement:

While Floridians were suffering a devastating hurricane, worrying about whether their homes and businesses would still be standing after the storm, Marco Rubio was begging them for campaign donations. Whether it’s failing to show up to vote for hurricane relief for Florida or voting against legislation to help protect our communities from flooding, Rubio always puts his political career ahead of what’s best for our state.

Recent polls have shown the race between Rubio and Demings is competitive in the swing state that was won narrowly by Trump in 2020.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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