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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Miami-Dade senator blasts Dolphins for 'attacking' legislators



They're playing political hardball in Miami-Dade, and it's all about football.

Republican Sen. Rene Garcia of Hialeah released a letter Wednesday sent to Miami Dolphins executive Stephen Ross, blasting him for a "reprehensible and condemnable" series of direct-mail attacks on lawmakers, requesting a public apology and promising retribution in the 2014 legislative session in Tallahassee.

The hard-hitting Ross mailers were in retaliation for those legislators' votes in opposition to a bill that would have authorized a county-wide referendum on a tax break for improvements at SunLife Stadium, the Dolphins' home. House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, blocked the bill from a floor vote and it was defeated, and the Dolphins said the rejection helped cost South Florida a chance to host the 2015 Super Bowl.

"I must convey my sincerest disappointment in the recent actions you have undertaken this week in recklessly attacking members of the Hispanic Caucus," wrote Garcia, who chairs the 20-member Florida Hispanic Legislative Caucus. "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."

Garcia's letter bluntly promised payback: "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."

Noting the decades-long support that South Florida has shown the team since its origins in 1966, Garcia wrote: "This community deserves more respect from you and your organization."

The targets of the mailers included Reps. Mike Bileca, Jose Felix Diaz and Carlos Trujillo, all of whom opposed the Dolphins legislation. Ross has formed a political action committee, Florida Jobs First, which has sent the targeted mailers to the three House members, all of whom face re-election next year.

[Last modified: Wednesday, June 26, 2013 1:04pm]


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