For the second time in a week, protesters have pushed Sen. Marco Rubio out of office, or at least out of an office space.
His landlord in Jacksonville has decided not to renew his month-to-month lease, citing daily protests outside the office, according to Rubio’s spokeswoman, Christina Mandreucci.
Last week, his landlord in Tampa made a similar decision.
Rubio has until April 30 to leave his office at the Dupont Center on the Southbank. Mandreucci said that the office, located at 1650 Prudential Drive, is next to a pediatric behavioral clinic and that played a part in the landlord choosing not to renew the lease.
Property records show that the office is owned by Baptist Health Properties Inc., and Baptist Health’s website says that the Wolfson Children’s Center for Behavioral Health is housed in the same building. A spokeswoman for Baptist Health did not respond to a request for comment Monday evening.
Mandreucci said on Monday that the office staff is looking for new space.
Jeff Allstadt, an organizer of Indivisible Clay County, which has been at Rubio’s office on a weekly basis, disputed that the protesters had been disruptive. “We pride ourselves on being respectful,” he said, adding that Rubio’s staff are also respectful.
At the first protest, someone from Rubio’s office let the protesters know, he said, about the pediatric clinic. The protesters moved to a different part of the building, he said, and since many of the protesters are older, retired people anyway, he said, they are usually quiet.
That’s not true, he said, for the Trump supporters. The Times-Union has documented Gary Snow, one Trump supporter, attending the protests with a loud megaphone.
He said it wasn’t a goal of the protesters to force Rubio to move offices, just to talk to him and his staff every week about the issues that matter to them. “When he moves to another office, we’re going to talk to him there. We’re just constituents and we’re trying to make points, discuss issues with him, and we’re going to do it wherever he sets up shop.”
Rubio’s spokeswoman’s full statement is below:
“For the second time in another major region of the state, the unruly behavior of some anti-Trump protesters is making it more inconvenient for Floridians to come to our local office to seek assistance with federal issues. In Jacksonville, these protesters weren’t just impacting our two person office, they were impacting the children being served next door at a pediatric behavioral clinic, which is why we understand the decision not to renew our lease. Our Tampa and Jacksonville offices are not political or campaign offices. They are small, two person offices that help Floridians in the region with issues such as Medicare, Social Security and veterans benefits. Just as we are doing in Tampa, our staff in Jacksonville will continue to provide services to Northeast Florida despite not having an office, until a new office space is secured. Those who disagree with President Trump and Senator Rubio certainly have a right to exercise their First Amendment rights, and most of them have done so in a productive and respectful way. But unfortunately, some of them have chosen to do so in a manner that potentially hinders their fellow Floridians’ ability to receive help from our office.”
Andrew Pantazi: (904) 359-4310
Copyright: The Florida Times-Union