Make us your home page

Sen. Marco Rubio rebukes Gov. Rick Scott on Cuba crackdown law statement

MIAMI — Sen. Marco Rubio joined the chorus of Republican lawmakers who disagree with Gov. Rick Scott for calling a Cuba-crackdown bill unenforceable and unconstitutional.

"I believe that it's constitutional," Rubio told the Miami Herald and WLRN-Miami Herald News, "but I don't sit on the Supreme Court. So it's not going to be my decision to make."

Asked if Congress and the president are needed to act to authorize the controversial Florida law — as Scott believes — Rubio said, "I don't think so."

His stance was the gentlest of rebukes of Scott, who incensed Rubio's fellow Republican lawmakers from Miami-Dade on Tuesday when he signed the crackdown law with great fanfare at a public event at the Freedom Tower — only to issue a signing statement moments later that essentially called the law meaningless.

The lawmakers, all members of Miami's Cuban exile community, felt betrayed by the statement, in large part because Scott didn't tell them he would issue it. They said the statement undermined the law, which prohibits state and local governments from contracting with companies that have business operations in Cuba or Syria.

One of Rubio's close friends and allies, U.S. Rep. David Rivera, even threatened to sue the governor if the law didn't go into effect on the scheduled July 1 date.

Scott retreated somewhat from his signing statement the following day, when he agreed with the lawmakers that the law is valid and would become effective in two months.

Regardless of the governor's retrenchment, the political damage has been done. The signing statement is sure to be used in a lawsuit from multi-national construction firms that would be prohibited from seeking major public-works projects.

Some speculated that Scott was trying to have it both ways: Signing a bill to appease the exile community, while planting a poison pill in his signing statement to appeal to big business.

The Florida Chamber of Commerce, as well as firms such as the Brazil-based construction conglomerate Odebrecht, raised concerns about the law. Brazil's embassy also called the governor's office this week with questions, newly released emails show.

In his three-page signing statement, Scott mentioned toward the bottom that a 2000 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Crosby v. National Foreign Trade Council, bars state and local governments from making laws that affect foreign commerce and that conflict with federal law.

"Because such a conflict may exist, the restrictions will not go into effect unless and until Congress passes, and President Obama signs, a law permitting states to independently impose such sanctions against Cuba and Syria," Scott said in his letter.

The key word in all of this: "conflict."

Rubio and others say the new law does not conflict with federal law, which holds that Cuba and Syria are state sponsors of terror along with Iran and Sudan.

"When I was the speaker of the House, we passed a bill that divested the state's investment plan from investments with Iran — a very legitimate position to take," Rubio said, noting this bill adds Syria and Cuba to the list.

"The criticism has been: 'states don't set foreign policy.' Well, they don't," Rubio said. "And I don't think they're doing that in this case. They are only reflecting existing foreign policy that says the Syria and Cuba are states sponsors of terrorism."

Sen. Marco Rubio rebukes Gov. Rick Scott on Cuba crackdown law statement 05/03/12 [Last modified: Thursday, May 3, 2012 9:15pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Water Street Tampa unveils illustrations showing downtown's transformation


    TAMPA — Water Street Tampa, the sweeping, 50-plus acre redevelopment project in Tampa's urban core, has unveiled new images and video of what the downtown district will look like upon completion.

    Strategic Property Partners released a conceptual image of what the Tampa skyline will look like once its redevelopment of 50-plus acres of downtown will look like. [Photo courtesy of  of SPP]
  2. Florida ranks high for workplace equality between men and women

    Working Life

    When it comes to the workplace, Florida ranks fifth in terms of gender equality, a WalletHub study released Tuesday found.

    Florida ranks high in terms of equality between men and women in the workplace. Pictured is Sandra Murman, county commissioner in 2015, talking about the differences in pay between men and women. | [Times file photo]
  3. Treasury secretary's wife boasts of travel on government plane, touts high fashion


    U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin's wife, Louise Linton, boasted of flying on a government plane with her husband to Kentucky on Monday and then named the numerous fashion brands she wore on the trip in an unusual social media post that only became more bizarre minutes later.

    Steven Mnuchin and his then- financee Louise Linton watch as President Donald Trump speaks during Mnuchin's swearing-in ceremony as  treasury secretary in the Oval Office of the White House on Feb. 13. [Mandel Ngan | AFP via Getty Images]
  4. Ford, Chinese partner look at possible electric car venture


    BEIJING — Ford Motor Co. and a Chinese automaker said Tuesday they are looking into setting up a joint venture to develop and manufacture electric cars in China.

    In this April 23, 2016 photo, attendees take smartphone photos at a promotional event for Ford Motor Company ahead of the Auto China car show in Beijing. Ford Motor Co. announced an agreement Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2017 with a Chinese partner to look into forming a joint venture to develop and manufacture electric cars in China. [AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein]
  5. Judge throws out $458,000 condo sale, says Clearwater attorney tricked bidders

    Real Estate

    CLEARWATER — Pinellas County Circuit Judge Jack St. Arnold on Monday threw out the $458,100 sale of a gulf-front condo because of what he called an "unscrupulous" and "conniving" scheme to trick bidders at a foreclosure auction.

    John Houde, left, whose Orlando copany was the high  bidder June 8 at the foreclosure auction of a Redington Beach condo, looks in the direction of Clearwater lawyer and real estate investor Roy C. Skelton, foreground,  during a hearing Monday before Pinellas County Circuit Judge Jack St. Arnold.  [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times ]