Fabián Basabe warns youth center funding could be vetoed after Twitter account mocks him
Image via Fabian Basabe.

Fabian Basabe - via Fabian Basabe
'This is money that WOULD NOT have been allocated if not for my crossing party and district lines to secure (it) in the budget.'

Rep. Fabián Basabe suggested a $1 million funding earmark he secured for Miami’s Overtown Youth Center could be vetoed after a Twitter account dedicated to mocking him shared an “embarrassing” video of him.

The Miami Beach Republican told Florida Politics he won’t seek the veto himself, but warned that Democrats’ “bad faith actions” and “unwillingness” to cooperate with GOP lawmakers could motivate Gov. Ron DeSantis to nix the appropriation.

The short video, posted by an account called Stop the Bully, shows Basabe having difficulty understanding a question Democratic Miami Rep. Ashley Gantt asked him on the House floor about a bill he passed May 2.

It shows Basabe perplexed by Gantt’s query, which isn’t included in the clip, and House Speaker Pro Tempore Chuck Clemons suggesting that Gantt ask her question “slower” to a ripple of laughs through the chamber.

“EMBARASSING INCOMPETENCE!” the tweet said. “House Speaker asks Rep. Gantt to read her question to @fabianbasabe2… ‘slower’…so he might understand like an adult.”

Responding to the tweet Wednesday, Basabe did not address the video or the bill being discussed in it, which concerned the rights of day laborers. He instead took aim at the appropriation for the youth center, which sits in Gantt’s district.

“Representative Gant’s (sic) district houses the Overtown youth center which I put in for $1,000,000.00 in appropriations,” he wrote.

“This is money that WOULD NOT have been allocated if not for my crossing party and district lines to secure (it) in the budget. Let’s hope no actions cause this to be vetoed. I worked hard to get this funded in the budget.”

Gantt fired back about an hour later, correcting Basabe’s spelling of her name and saying she is a “staunch supporter” of the center.

She then incorrectly asserted Democratic Miami Gardens Sen. Shevrin Jones, a former member of the youth center’s board of directors that got state money years ago, had sought its funding in the Legislature’s upper chamber this year.

The Senate companion to Basabe’s funding request was actually sponsored by Miami Republican Sen. Ileana Garcia, who picked up the measure after Miami Democratic Sen. Jason Pizzo carried it in the 2021 and 2022 Sessions. The prior House sponsor for years was Democratic Rep. James Bush III, whom Gantt unseated in August.

Gantt then took a dig at Basabe’s tanking favorability stemming from an investigation into whether he slapped an aide, a statement he made blaming Democrats for Florida’s new six-week abortion ban and umbrage progressive voters in his district have taken over his support for bills to expand a measure critics have called the “Don’t Say Gay” law, crack down on exposing minors to drag shows and eliminate permit requirements to carry a concealed firearm.

“Do not use my district as part of a PR rehab talking point,” she wrote. “I don’t do messy.”

Gantt told Florida Politics that Basabe informed her during the Legislative Session that he was requesting funding for the youth center, which she called an “amazing organization” that does “pivotal work in the community.”

She took that as odd, she said, considering he isn’t from Overtown, doesn’t represent the neighborhood in Tallahassee and likely is unfamiliar with its historical relevance.

“Maybe he’s done a Google search or something and found out about Overtown or the center, but don’t act as if you’re the great White savior for a Black community. That’s what I have a problem with — and him implying that I, as a Black woman representing the district I grew up in, am not capable of doing something he did,” she said. “I also don’t go around announcing what appropriations I’m sponsoring.”

Basabe said he only told Gantt about the youth center funding to invite her to work with him, a fellow freshman state lawmaker from South Florida, in getting it approved.

He vowed he will “absolutely not” try to get DeSantis to veto the state funding for the center, which also gets $700,000 locally.

“I put people before politics, believe in the work the Overtown Youth Center is doing and was hopeful of the opportunity to work together with a colleague in improving the lives of many,” he said.

“On a more political note, it’s a proven fact that the majority brings more funding than their opposition, and any attempt to mask this is terribly irresponsible and harmful to all constituents.”

Gantt doesn’t recall her exchange with Basabe about the funding being nearly as cordial as he described it.

“He said, “Oh, I’m doing this for your community.’ That was the conversation,” she said. “I was gracious enough to say, ‘Thank you. I hope you get it.’ But the implication (I got from him) was, ‘Because I’m a Republican, I’m going to get money you can’t.”

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.


2 comments

  • Dont Say FLA

    May 18, 2023 at 6:24 pm

    More political retaliation from yet another thin-skinned Fleur D’uh Republican. Is anybody surprised? Anyone at all? NOPE!

  • Michael K

    May 18, 2023 at 10:14 pm

    What is wrong withers people. This taxpayer money – not their personal wallet. These projects serve the community. The super majority is rotten and corrupt to the core.

Comments are closed.


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