Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has criticized as “deplorable” living conditions at the Eureka Gardens apartment complex. He dubbed Global Ministries Foundation a “slumlord” and demanded a criminal investigation of its operations.
Rubio refrained from similar criticisms of the property’s former management – well connected political donors to Rubio’s senate campaign.
Until 2012, the apartment complex was owned by a Jacksonville real estate investor family –William H. Walton Jr., and later his sons William Walton III and Alonzo “Lon” Walton.
The property was just as blighted under their ownership as it is today. In fact, in March 2011, former City Councilman Warren Jones called for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to its revoke Eureka’s subsidies because of living conditions there. He dropped his resolution after word of a pending sale came to light (GMF bought the property Dec. 30, 2012).
But beginning in 2009, according to campaign finance records, Walton III gave Rubio and Rubio PACs at least $27,600. Another $44,500 in campaign cash came Rubio’s way in 2014 via Crow Holdings, a Texas-based investment conglomerate, on which Walton III serves as one of seven board members.
We asked Rubio today why he wasn’t more critical the former owners of Eureka Gardens – and whether political donations played a role.
"This came to our attention last October when residents came forward - it doesn't matter who is owning the property," Rubio said. "We would have been on it the same way we are on now. I'm not even aware of the previous ownership and perhaps some of those problems pre-existed Global Ministries, but there job was to fix it... and that will be the job of the next owner... to fix it."
When pressed on the fact that Eureka Gardens has been blighted for many years, and asked again if political posturing and campaign contributions had anything to do with his actions, Rubio again denied any relationship between the previous owners of the property and his actions.
"It's irrelevant," he said. "People buy into my agenda. I don't buy into theirs. I can tell you no one ever came to me and said I own this building and we want you to look the other way. So, people can donate to my campaigns, but in the end they're buying into my agenda... and part of my agenda is to insure that HUD housing in America... that public funds are being used appropriately in these facilities."
(© 2016 WTLV)