At the end of every week, we praise a political playmaker, “swipe left” on the week’s biggest political loser, and explain what it all means for Florida’s political arena.
CHAMP: State Representative Anthony Sabatini
While many political leaders talk a big game, very few build their careers on a rock-solid foundation made of principles and sound policy.
Sabatini is the exception.
The outspoken conservative who represents House District 32 has been one of the most vocal lawmakers during the COVID-19 pandemic — continuing to support small business owners in their quest to reopen Florida’s economy and get back to work.
Sabatini has never been the one to shy away from a melee predicated on one’s inalienable rights. His fight against government overreach was on full display this past week when the young Republican decided to take a break from his legislative duties to legally represent a Pinellas Park business owner who arrested for violating the county’s safer-at-home order.
Gallen Wood, the owner of Kitchen Table Games at 9600 66th Street North in Pinellas Park, was arrested earlier this month after deputies say he violated the order when he operated his non-essential business.
According to deputies, the 36-year-old business owner continued to operate his store that specializes the tabletop gaming after the Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners issued the order late last month. Authorities say they were called to the business five times between April 3 and April 16, due to complaints and tips that the store was open, and social distancing guidelines were not being followed.
Wood was charged with operating a non-essential business, becoming the first Florida business owner to be arrested under such orders.
The move didn’t sit well to the freedom fighter from Howey-in-the-Hills, who was ready to fight on behalf of limited government and protect the lifeblood of the state’s economy. Sabatini’s decision was an unprecedented move that sent shock waves through the media, with many conservatives around the state applauding his resolve and dedication to the U.S. Constitution.
Then, a day after news broke of Sabatini’s choice to defend Wood, the case against the small business owner was dropped — to the delight of many.
The decision was a win for Sabatini, increasing his appeal and authenticity as a public servant. More importantly, the state’s decision to not go after Wood was a win for Florida’s business community.
CHUMP: U.S. Senator Marco Rubio
While he’s been strong on his criticism of China and defense of Governor Ron DeSantis, Rubio made a mistake when he released a video on social media signaling his approval of media companies taking forgivable loans under the paycheck protection plan.
This past Thursday, Rubio tweeted a video in defense of “some newspapers and smaller media outlets” getting the loans.
“No conflict of interest for a media outlet to take a #PPPloan they qualify for. Accepting #PPP to help keep American workers from getting furloughed or let go does not require waiving constitutional rights such as 1st Amendment freedom of the press,” Rubio said in the video.
No conflict of interest for a media outlet to take a #PPPloan they qualify for.
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) April 30, 2020
While traditional news outlets continue to die out as people turn to online websites, some of the biggest newspapers are being granted a lifeline — even when the demand for their product continues to tank.
The Tampa Bay Times, one of the main newspapers in the state, has already received a loan of $8.5 million under the federal government’s program.
The program is designed to help smaller businesses keep paying employees during the crisis. For the first eight weeks after a loan is made, the government will forgive repayment of expenses for payroll, plus some rent, utilities and mortgage interest.
Without question, certain businesses desperately need these loans to keep their enterprise afloat. And while it’s inevitable that companies that will mismanage these funds and never pay them back, newspapers are some of the most insolvent organizations.
We suspect this will be a complete waste of money that will go unaccounted for.