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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Miami expressway board member quits in protest over Rick Scott campaign controversy



By Sergio Bustos, Miami Herald

Gonzalo Sanabria, a longtime Miami-Dade Expressway Authority board member, announced Thursday he was resigning from his appointed post to protest the “disparaging and disrespectful” treatment of Mike Fernandez, the former co-finance chairman of Gov. Rick Scott’s campaign.

“Since he has been treated in such a disparaging and disrespectful manner by your [campaign] staff and ignored in his advice, it is obvious that there is a great deal of dysfunction and disconnection of which I want to have no part nor can I render my support any longer as you are governing from a weak and flawed platform,” Sanabria wrote in an email he sent to Scott’s staff.

Fernandez relinquished his title last week after three of his emails, leaked to the Herald/Times and Politico, questioned the judgment of Scott’s advisers and the quality of his campaign ads and his Hispanic outreach. He also complained about a lack of access to Scott and accused unidentified campaign aides of mimicking a Mexican accent in front of his business partner, a charge the campaign denies but will not discuss in detail.

Fernandez, who lives in Coral Gables, is a highly successful health care billionaire entrepreneur who came to the United States as a poor young man from Cuba — an ideal symbol of a successful pro-businessman who could help Scott court Hispanic votes.

Fernandez had recommended that Scott re-appoint Sanabria to the MDX board. Sanabria has served on the MDX board under former governors Charlie Crist and Jeb Bush.

The board oversees the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority, which manages several major highways, including the Airport Expressway, Dolphin Expressway and the Gratigny Expressway

“The Hispanic Community of South Florida is a key component of this great State’s vibrant socio-political fabric and treating us as you have is a grave mistake as it pains me to tell you what you will find out to the chagrin of us loyal Republicans,” wrote Sanabria. “Good Luck Governor, I’m not a fan any longer.”

Sanabria, 65, a real estate broker and investor who lives in Coral Gables, shared his resignation email with the Miami Herald.

Sanabria also told the Herald that he was stepping down from a leadership post within the Republican Party of Miami-Dade County. In 2012, Republican voters in 28 precincts elected him to serve as a Republican Committeeman.

"I resigned today from that post sending my resignation effective inmediately to Nelson Diaz, Dade GOP Chair, stating that I could not support the Governor," Sanabria told the Herald.

In a press release issued Thursday afternoon from Gov. Scott's office, there is no mention of Sanabria's resignation. The release notes that the governor had appointed Javier Vasquez, of Miami Lakes, to the MDX board.

Vazquez, 50, is an attorney with Berger Singerman LLP, according to the statement.

"He fills a vacant seat and is appointed for a term beginning March 27, 2014, and ending April 6, 2017," said the release without mentioning Sanabria's resignation.

[Last modified: Thursday, March 27, 2014 2:39pm]


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