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UPDATED Dolphins owner Stephen Ross begins campaign vs. Miami lawmakers who opposed stadium deal

@PatriciaMazzei IMG_2743

Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross hinted at political revenge last month against the Florida House of Representatives lawmakers who stood in the way of a proposed renovation to Sun Life Stadium. It didn't take him long to follow through.

Last week, voters in three districts received fliers attacking state Reps. Jose Felix Diaz, Carlos Trujillo and Michael Bileca, three Miami Republicans who opposed the $350 million stadium redo that would have been partly funded by public dollars. The mailers were sent by Florida Jobs First, a new super PAC created by Ross, Politico reported Monday.

The political action committee will support Republican Gov. Rick Scott's reelection next year and play a "nonpartisan" effort in other Florida races, according to Politico. The governor all but endorsed the Dolphins' proposal.

Ross, a billionaire real-estate developer, is a longtime GOP fundraiser. But he was incensed at some in his own party who blocked the stadium legislation during this year's session, chief among them House Speaker Will Weatherford. The legislation was required to allow Miami-Dade to ask voters whether public money should be spent on the stadium upgrades. 

IMG_0729The night that the session ended without a House vote on the Dolphins bill, Ross blasted Weatherford, a Wesley Chapel Republican. Ross claimed Weatherford had pledged a floor vote. Weatherford denied it and cited a split Miami-Dade delegation on the bill as a principal obstacle in its passage.

"In the future, I will look to play an important role in fixing the dysfunction in Tallahassee and will continue to work to create good jobs in Miami-Dade and throughout South Florida," Ross said in the May 3 statement.

Florida Jobs First filed paperwork with the IRS on June 14 as a political organization. The filing doesn't list Ross, only Miami accountant Ed Torgas, who was also registered as an agent of Friends of Miami First, the political committee that campaigned for the stadium renovation in Miami. As a super PAC, Florida Jobs First can raise unlimited political funds.

The first round of spending targeted Bileca and Trujillo, perhaps the loudest pair of voices among local lawmakers against the stadium plan, and Diaz, the vice-chairman of the Miami-Dade legislative delegation. All three face reelection in the fall of 2014. The mailers against the trio are identical, except for the legislators' names and photographs.


Diaz said he was surprised by the attack because he said he tried to keep a low profile on the legislation, given that his law firm, Akerman Senterfitt, has worked for the Dolphins.

"I never took a vote against it, and I tried to stay out of it," he said, adding that he "wasn't excited" about the bill. Of the flier, he added: "Mine just seems to be guilty by association."

"More than 4,000 New Miami jobs...gone. Republican Representative Jose Felix Diaz failed us," reads one side of the piece.

On another: "Republican State Representative Carlos Trujillo recently blocked big tourist events like the Super Bowl from returning to Miami. Over 4,000 good paying jobs that would've been created locally with contractors, suppliers and other vendors -- won't be created at all.

It concludes: "The reality is, Miami-Dade could have had a chance to vote FOR those jobs, but Bileca blocked a referendum so that only his vote counts, not yours."

Ross, who works in New York City but lives in Palm Beach County, could not be immediately reached for comment. A senior official with Florida Jobs First confirmed to the Miami Herald that the only three lawmakers targeted so far have been Bileca, Diaz and Trujillo.

Ross ruffled political feathers when he publicly bashed Weatherford. His latest efforts send a clear message that he has his eye set on other politicians, too, though it's unusual for state House campaigns to begin more than a year before the election -- especially with another legislative session before the election.

"It's reckless," Trujillo said of the fliers. "It's a little bit embarrasing, I think, for them, with their stature in the community, to be attacking individual members."

Based on the partial tally of votes that had been cast early and by mail in the referendum before it was cancelled, he noted, the Dolphins' campaign was foundering.

Diaz, Trujillo and the others who opposed the Dolphins are likely to have deep-pocketed supporters of their own. Miami auto magnate Norman Braman, for example, himself a billionaire and frequent GOP donor, lobbied against the financing for the stadium renovations.

This post has been updated to reflect that Bileca was also targeted by the fliers and to add Diaz's comment.


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N. Brown

Finally someone who will stand up to leadership stupidity.

There needs to be a reckoning when a Speaker does whats best for himself and not the community... and the fools that put this 34 year old kid in office should not be immune from the consequences either.

Go get'um big dog!

Robyn Campbell

I'm glad that Dolphins owner Stephen Ross is standing up against these putrid politicians. I think it needs to be brought to the PEOPLE. If the Dolphins were to leave it would devastate Miami.

Mike Bennett

It is real interesting when some billionaire can pay a ball player millions of dollars every year . Then the players are not a good example for the youth of our country, and that same billionaire want the taxpayers to enrich him further.

How do you justify spending taxpayers money for their ball field, and the average taxpayer can't afford their overpriced tickets, overpriced drinks and overpriced food. When will the idiots from Miami wake up and realize that no professional team, is about to leave one of the top markets in the country.

Gary McKeighen

I'm with you, Mr. Ross. Republican left wingers will NOT be tolerated. And Braman is totally out of control! He must be stopped, or at least marginalized. As a former NFL owner he should know better! He thinks he's the official bully in the Miami sandbox. Let's show him!

N. Brown

Florida has supported these type efforts often in the past. The tax revenues along promise a return on investment.

Whats interesting is how weak the Cuban Caucus is now. In the past if you did this to them in the House there would be an outright insurrection. Even Weatherford's slow witted father in law understood this.

Now all we hear is that they thing its "not appropriate to single out individual members"...man thats weak.

These guys voted for this junior Speaker for the promise of a committee assignment or two. Then the Speaker promptly kills a huge economic incentive package for the community and when our local reps are held accountable they claim its unfair? Pathetic.

Rep. Oliva show some leadership and get your gang together to defend us...or move out of the way and let someone else with some courage lead.

joe blow

Let Ross and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell PAY for stadium upgrades out of THEIR POCKETS.
Don't forget how Miami Dade voters were hoodwinked by the Marlins and Heat.
All the jobs stuff is just crap. The jobs and numbers never pan out.
The Marlins brought in workers from Mexico who could be paid lower than minimum.
Why should the community pay $400 million when Ross is a MULTI BILLIONAIRE?
Just say NO to handouts for Millionaires and Billionaires!

J Walker

There were never 4,000 jobs, just a money grab by a lying greedy billionaire assisted by sleazy pols and the dimwitted.

The Dolphins can leave tomorrow, better to PB for the lulz; LA is doing pretty well without a team.

No welfare for billionaires.


I can tell you that I would hate to be a politician that is targeted by someone that is really old and happens to have 4 Billion dollars to toss around with out concern. Looks like we will be seeing an increase in negative ads in 2014 (which I thought was impossible). Those guys are as sure as out or office in 2015. GO PHINS 2013.


I did not support the stadium renovations but I felt they deserved putting it to a vote of the people. I really think it would have had a hard passing thanks to the Marlins debacle, but the voters should not have made that decsion.

I regards to Bileca and Trujillo the parents of Miami Dade Couny and the state of Florida would love to help him defeat those two legislators. Their support of the parent trigger bill and attacks on public education have not been forgotten and we would love to see them lose.


I would not give the Dolphins or any NFL team a dime until the legislators change the statutes and remove the sales tax exemption allowed on Super Bowl Tickets. Attendees do not complain about the price of the Super Bowl Ticket, the TicketMaster Fees, the mailing costs, yada yada, so why in the world does the state see fit to exempt the SB tickets from sales and local taxes is beyond my comprehension.


Ross works in New York City but lives in Palm Beach County? That's a hell of a commute. Look. I was against making the taxpayers foot the bill for renovations, but for the Dolphins not to get the unused money back from the partial election? That's just thievery.


Just for the record, they didn't offer to subsidize Simon or the Dadeland Mall either. How is that for perspective? The Dolphin thing was a bad idea. I'm thinking Ross's attacks are going to help them more than hurt them.

Now, on education, our Reps need to go back and do a whole lot more reeling in on charter schools. Keep it in perspective, guys. We know you are reading this and parents are not thrilled with that parent trigger thing. More importantly, grand parents are not thrilled and we know how to show up and vote.

The public is the best special interest you can serve. Serve them and you might get re-elected.


My Opinión is just my opinión. No single one's opinión should prevail over the organized collective say so.

Public Referendum is the way. Let's do it.

Julian E. Garcia

Scott Vacca

No one seems to remembers why The Miami Dolphins built the
Joe Robbie because Mr. Robbie had his team playing in a dump.
Thanks to the City of Miami and the Orange Bowl in the 80s The Dolphins played in the worst place in the NFL. Joe Robbie wanted a new place but
the city of Miami wouldn't do anything to help make a new place to play
Joe Robbie built it without State money and if you don't he would move the team out
of the city of Miami and The Orange Bowl. So With all Billions that, Mr. Ross has why can't he just do what the late Joe Robbie did in the 80s. He was a class act. Why do billionaire need government handouts and they start so say
we may leave South Florida. Citizens need handouts from the government not billionaire.

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