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The Florida senate race between Republican Marco Rubio and Democrat Val Demings is at a key stage as both campaigns start looking to boost their fundraising revenues and attempt to expose their opponent’s weaknesses. Following this dynamic, Rubio’s campaign was the latest to strike in this race by reminding voters of the Democratic representative’s controversial record on her apparent violations of congressional ethics rules.
In a Spanish-language statement obtained by El American — titled Las reglas para todos excepto para Demings! — the Rubio campaign slammed Val Demings for allegedly being implicated in several ethics issues since she began her campaign.
“First, Demings used her Twitter account as a U.S. Congresswoman to boost support for her newly created Twitter account for her Senate campaign. Then, she violated a money ban by fundraising alongside one of the biggest opponents of parental involvement in their children’s education,” reads the statement.
“Then, she illegally used taxpayer money to send campaign ads to Floridians living outside her district. And recently, Demings simultaneously attended both an official congressional committee meeting and a Zoom call for his campaign,” it adds.
Taxpayer money to benefit her campaign
One of the cases cited by the Rubio campaign dates back to June 2021, when the Democrat used her official congressional Twitter account to boost her fledgling campaign account that had far fewer followers. The case was reported by The Washington Free Beacon at the time.
“Demings used her official Twitter account, which has more than 300,000 followers, to direct people to her far less popular campaign account,” the outlet reported.
After the tweet reached thousands of retweets and likes, the congresswoman deleted the post, but the damage was done: her posting violated House rules prohibiting the use of taxpayer-funded resources for electioneering purposes, according to a complaint filed by the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT) with the Office of Congressional Ethics.
Another case mentioned by the Rubio campaign was reported by the Washington Free Beacon earlier in March when House Democrats blocked an investigation into possible misuse of taxpayer funds by Demings, who allegedly admitted to sending a 12-page “campaign-style” mailer to Florida citizens outside his district. Something that is not allowed.
“Following the commission’s initial investigation of the complaint, Demings in a three-page letter from attorneys at Elias Law Group, obtained by the Free Beacon, admitted that the mailings went outside her district,” reads the the Free Beacon.
Demings’ lawyers said the responsibility for the violation rested with the private vendor responsible for sending the mailings, and not with their client. They further argued that the Democrat did not violate the law because the messages were not “targeted.”
Marco Rubio charges Demings in an even race
Marco Rubio himself mentioned another of the ethical problems faced by Demings in an interview with Accion 97.9 FM.
The senator recalled an episode in April, when the Democratic representative touted her Senate candidacy at a virtual event while, at the same time, attending a remote congressional hearing.
“This is a congresswoman who was on a Zoom (…) raising money at the same time she was in a committee from her home or office,” Rubio said.
A month later, the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust, Fox News revealed, sent a complaint to the Office of Congressional Ethics reprimanding the Democrat. “Not only was this incident an embarrassing moment for [Demings], and for the House, but there also appears to be a serious violation of the rules.”
Laura Ortiz, Marco Rubio’s Hispanic Media Director for the Senate, said in the Rubio campaign statement that “Val Demings is the perfect embodiment of a far-left Democrat who believes the rules should apply to everyone but her.”
“Considering that she herself is of the opinion that ‘no one is above the law,’ she cares little about breaking the rules when it helps her political campaign. Floridians deserve better,” added Ortiz.
According to the latest polls, Marco Rubio still holds a five-point lead over Val Demings in the Senate race. The next few months will be critical to see if the gap narrows or if the Republican can consolidate his lead.
Emmanuel Alejandro Rondón is a journalist at El American specializing in the areas of American politics and media analysis // Emmanuel Alejandro Rondón es periodista de El American especializado en las áreas de política americana y análisis de medios de comunicación.