During a meeting of the House Democratic Caucus on Thursday, Democratic leader Rep. Ron Saunders, D-Key West, broke the news of Rep. Richard Steinberg’s resignation to his colleagues.
There was only a faint hum of shock in the room. Some members expressed relief, saying to one another that the decision was the right move for Steinberg, who stands accused of sending several bizarre text messages to a married Miami prosecutor. The Miami Herald broke the story in a front-page article on Thursday.
Following a Thursday evening meeting in which members were apparently asked not to speak to the media about Steinberg, the party’s leadership warned members against being too vocal about Steinberg after his resignation.
“Now that it’s out there, let’s be very careful, because we’re not sure about the whole circumstances or whatever,” said Saunders. “So what we’ll say is that he was a respected colleague and we respect his decision.”
While several Democrats declined to comment on Steinberg on Friday morning, his ignominious departure deals a blow to the minority party.
Steinberg, a lawyer, was considered to be one of the Democrats best weapons for debating a supermajority of Republicans on legal issues. He was widely credited with helping to kill a measure to give lawmakers legislative immunity, after filing hard-hitting amendments and peppering the sponsor with sharp-tongued questions on the bill.
“There isn’t any state in the entire nation that has adopted what is being contemplated here,’’ he said last week. The bill passed his committee, but was shot down in the Senate.
The House Democratic Leader released the following statement, in a press release:
STATEMENT BY THE FLORIDA HOUSE DEMOCRATIC LEADER
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- House Democratic Leader Ron Saunders issued the following statement on behalf of the Florida House Democratic Caucus:
"Representative Richard Steinberg has submitted his resignation from the Florida House of Representatives. The concerns of everyone involved are in our thoughts and prayers."