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UPDATE: Hispanic Caucus Chairman Rene Garcia: Dolphins owner Stephen Ross political attacks “reprehensible”

by Dara Kam | June 26th, 2013

UPDATE: “Florida Jobs First” spokesman Eric Jotkoff shot back this snarky response to Garcia’s 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. The people of Miami-Dade deserved the right to vote on the modernization and the 4,000 jobs it would have created. They deserved a fair shot at Super Bowls 50 and 51, and the hundreds of millions of dollars in economic activity they would have generated. Speaker 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. We will keep fighting for jobs for Florida, just like we would expect every elected official to do.”

Sen. Rene Garcia, chairman of the Florida Hispanic Legislative Caucus, sent a blistering letter to Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross demanding an apology for his “reprehensible” and “condemnable” political punishment of Hispanic lawmakers who opposed a stadium deal earlier this year.

Ross set up the “Florida Jobs First” PAC to raise money for Gov. Rick Scott’s reelection bid and attack legislators who weren’t sold on the proposal to increase Miami-Dade County’s hotel bed tax to underwrite a $350 million Sun Life Stadium renovation. Ross reportedly lost $10 million on the failed referendum.

“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 in the letter sent to Ross on Wednesday. Garcia also threatened that Ross’s attacks may “diminish the sense of goodwill” the Dolphins have in the community.

Read The Post’s Dolphins reporter Andrew Abramson’s full blog on the Dolphins dust-up here, and the full text of Garcia’s letter to Ross after the jump.

Dear Mr. Ross,

As Chairman of the Florida Hispanic Legislative Caucus (FHLC), representing the twenty members of the Caucus, I must convey my sincerest disappointment in the recent actions you have undertaken this week in recklessly attacking members of the Hispanic Caucus. As you very well know, the FHLC did not take an official position on the issue of using tax dollars to finance renovations to Sun Life Stadium since we had members advocating on both sides of this contentious issue. The Caucus respected the legislative process and decided not to intervene in the political affairs of the individual members. 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.

The Miami Dolphins organization has been embraced by the Miami-Dade community since the establishment of the franchise in 1966; this community deserves more respect from you and your organization. The FHLC has enjoyed a working relationship with the Miami Dolphins for many years. 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. This is unfortunate not only for the Miami Dolphins, but also for the South Florida community which has always held the Miami Dolphins in high regard. The attacks you initiated upon our Caucus members may diminish the sense of goodwill the Miami Dolphins have worked so hard to establish and preserve throughout the years.

I truly hope you reconsider the course of action you have embarked upon and issue a full and public apology to all elected officials you have attacked in your reaction to our democratic legislative process. This community deserves better discourse between its elected officials and business leaders.

Sincerely,

Senator René García
Chairman
Florida Hispanic Legislative Caucus

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