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UPDATED Florida Hispanic Legislative Caucus chair to Miami Dolphins owner: Apologize for 'reprehensible' attack fliers

@PatriciaMazzei

Sen. René García, the Hialeah Republican who chairs the Florida Hispanic Legislative Caucus, came to the defense Wednesday of the three Miami lawmakers attacked over their opposition to a failed proposal to renovate the Miami Dolphins' football stadium.

In a sharply worded letter to Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, García asked for "a full and public apology" to lawmakers targeted by the fliers, which were mailed late last week by a new PAC created by Ross, Florida Jobs First.

"We understand that you certainly have a right to express your discontentment; however, directly attacking legislators because of their decision to adhere to their principles in standing with their constituency on an issue directly affecting your own financial viability is reprehensible and certainly condemnable," he wrote.

The Hispanic caucus did not take a position on the legislation, García noted, because its members -- like the Miami-Dade legislative delegation -- were divided on the issue. The three lawmakers targeted by the fliers, state Reps. Michael Bileca, Jose Felix Diaz and Carlos Trujillo, are all Republican. Diaz and Trujillo are also Hispanic; Bileca is also a member of the caucus because he represents a district where more than 51 percent of voters are Hispanic.

Trujillo and Bileca were among the loudest voices who opposed the Dolphins' push to raise the mainland Miami-Dade hotel-tax rate and get a new state sales-tax subsidy to fund part of a $350 million makeover to Sun Life Stadium. The proposal died after the Florida House of Representatives failed to take it up before the end of session last month. Ross quickly vowed to get more involved in state politics.

"The attacks you initiated upon our Caucus members may diminish the sense of goodwill the Miami Dolphins have worked so hard to establish and preserve throughout the years," García wrote.

"I truly hope you reconsider the course of action you have embarked upon and issue a full and public apology to all elected officials you have attacked in your reaction to our democratic legislative process. This community deserves better discourse between its elected officials and business leaders."

UPDATE: In a written statement, Florida Jobs First spokesman Eric Jotkoff dismissed Garcia's letter.

"Senator Garcia's comments will carry as much weight with us as they did in the Senate, where his stance against the referendum was rejected by an overwhelming 35-4 vote," Jotkoff said.

"The people of Miami-Dade deserved the right to vote on the modernization and the 4,000 jobs it would have created. They deserved a fair shot at Super Bowls 50 and 51, and the hundreds of millions of dollars in economic activity they would have generated. Speaker [Will] Weatherford made clear after blocking the vote that he did it in part because of the Miami-Dade delegation, so we are just following the path he laid out by holding the opponents in the delegation accountable. We will keep fighting for jobs for Florida, just like we would expect every elected official to do."

This post has been updated to reflect that Bileca is also a member of the Hispanic caucus.

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