Was Marco Rubio dissing Val Demings from his official desk?

Spectrum screenshot
Based on a comparison of photos, it sure looks like it.

Sen. Marco Rubio spent much of the week responding to news U.S. Rep. Val Demings would challenge his reelection. But was he in such a hurry he forgot to leave politics outside his official office?

In at least one interview Rubio conducted June 9, the Republican Senator clearly is seated at his desk in the Russell Senate Office Building. A comparison of photos of his Senate office with the background of the interview shows the same positioning of his chair, with framed photos and other wall decorations hanging in the same pattern.

The discussion with Spectrum News ended up being presented under the headline “Rubio signals strategy in race against Demings for U.S. Senate.” Conducted hours after Demings announced her Senate candidacy, the entire substance of the interview appeared to directly relate to campaigning.

Of note, journalists frequently contact official offices seeking the opportunity to discuss politics and official business, but this particular conversation framed every matter in terms of political strategy.

In that interview, he attacked his Democratic opponent for have a voting record in line with the Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez-led “squad” and with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. He labeled the Congresswoman a “do nothing Democrat,” incidentally as he sponsored legislation about a Pulse memorial that was a companion to a Demings-sponsored bill already passed in the House.

But it’s the venue for the remarks that has some picking apart the scenery in the camera background. The language was similar in respects to a statement issued by Rubio’s Senate campaign the same day.

Federal officials and staff normally carefully avoid mixing political and government work. In fact, the Senate Ethics Committee Manual explicitly states ”Senate space may not be used for any political campaign” in a section dedicated to “Use of Senate Space.”

The Ethics Committee on multiple occasions has offered direction that any “general campaign or campaign fund activities should be conducted outside of the official office space provided Members of Congress.”

In contrast, Demings took steps to make clear her House work will not overlap with her Senate campaign. Demings keeps separate Twitter accounts for official business and campaign work. Her official Twitter as of Wednesday had a pinned message making clear it will only handle work “for the People of Florida’s 10th District” and refers all campaign communication to her political handle.

Spectrum News screenshot
Photo via Rubio’s official Senate office.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected]


4 comments

  • Tom

    June 11, 2021 at 4:47 pm

    Absolutely disgusting. People can argue politics however they want, but when it comes to the institutions that will outlast all of us, you better treat them with dignity, and with respect.

    Using the office of the FL Senate this way is the equivalent of using it as a stepstool for one’s political ambitions. Treating it as a tool to get to what you want. And worse still, if left unpunished, it’s sets precedent that this kind of calculated behavior will be acceptable in the future.

    Absolutely disgusting.

    Reply

    • Tom

      June 11, 2021 at 4:48 pm

      Meant the US Senate.

      Reply

  • Ron Jakubisyn

    June 11, 2021 at 5:49 pm

    A republican violated ethics? Say it ain’t so.

    Reply

  • kennethmccarver

    June 12, 2021 at 10:10 am

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    Reply

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