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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Rubio to hold lunch fundraiser with Tampa-area GOP insiders on Monday



Sen. Marco Rubio will be in the Tampa Bay area Monday to meet with some local Republican "VIPs," according to an influential but controversial GOP activist's Facebook page. 

Valrico businessman Sam Rashid posted this week that he will attend a lunch meeting/fundraiser Monday with Rubio and several well-known Republican insiders, including former Hillsborough County Republican Party chairwoman Deborah Cox-Roush, engineer Hung Mai, former Freedom Works Florida leader Tom Gaitens, real estate investor Andy Scaglione, and "a few other VIPs." 

Rashid posted a recent interview with Rubio on Fox News  to his Facebook this week and heaped praise on the Florida Republican. Rashid, a prominent donor and conservative voice in Hillsborough County, helped Rubio win his Florida Senate race in 2010.

"I can't tell you how great this response is and how so very forward we're looking to have lunch with him," Rashid wrote. After the Tampa Bay Times inquired about the lunch, Rashid's post was either removed or hidden from public view.

Rashid would not comment on where the meeting would take place and Rubio's campaign declined to speak about the candidate's private schedule. A previous Facebook post by Rashid said the lunch will cost $2,700 per person. 

The meeting with Rashid comes as the Republican kingmaker is embroiled in a local scandal for calling a Tampa public relations consultant a "taxpayer-subsidized slut" on Facebook. Rashid is a gubernatorial appointee to the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority board of directors and Gov. Rick Scott's office has said he "expects" Rashid to resign in the wake of his remarks. Rashid has so far declined and Scott has avoided taking steps to personally remove him from the board. 

It's the second time this year Rashid has gotten into trouble for posts on social media. In May, he called three unnamed Hillsborough County Circuit Judges “dumbasses” on Facebook. 

At the time, Rashid had been jointly nominated by Rubio and Sen. Bill Nelson to serve on the Florida Federal Judicial Nominating Commission, the influential body that nominates candidates for federal judgeships, U.S. Attorneys and U.S. Marshals. But he withdrew when his comments drew public scrutiny.

[Last modified: Thursday, September 24, 2015 1:37pm]


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