Florida

Miami Dolphins Owner Recruits Puppet Candidates for State Legislature

Campaigns

Stephen Ross, the billionaire owner of the Miami Dolphins, is recruiting tax-and-spend puppet candidates to challenge fiscally conservative Florida Republican state legislators in the 2014 Republican primaries. The New York real estate investor’s actions are the latest in his campaign of personal destruction against fiscal conservatives who voted against massive taxpayer subsidies for Ross’ Sun Life Stadium.

Ross, a real estate investor from Michigan who now lives in New York, owns 95 percent of the Miami Dolphins and Sun Life Stadium. Ross sought funding this year from Florida state and local taxpayers to cover much of the expenses for $350 million in upgrades he desired for Sun Life Stadium. After the Florida legislature rejected his demands for public funding of his privately owned stadium, Ross turned his fury on Republican lawmakers who voted against the subsidies. Ross directed particular wrath against Miami-based state legislators Michael Bileca and Carlos Trujillo.

In June, the New York multi-billionaire sent mailers to Miami residents blasting Bileca and Trujillo for their votes, falsely claiming the legislators “blocked big tourist events like the Super Bowl from returning to Miami.”

Ross, who donates large sums of money to charitable causes in Michigan and New York but donates little to the Miami area, also claimed he would not be able to build his desired upgrades without Florida state and local taxpayers footing the bill.

A spokesman for Ross’ political front group, Florida Jobs First, confirmed to the Miami Herald that Ross is recruiting tax-and-spend candidates to challenge Bileca and Trujillo in the 2014 Republican primaries.

“After hearing from many in the community who were upset by those who stood in the way of jobs for Miami-Dade, we have been talking to several potential candidates to challenge Trujillo and Bileca,” said Florida Jobs First spokesperson Eric Jotkoff.

Jotkoff’s assertion flies in the face of bipartisan opposition to giving the multi-billionaire Ross massive taxpayer subsidies. The Miami-Dade County Republican and Democratic Parties united this year in opposition to Ross’ desired subsidies.

Ross appears to be taking a daring risk by recruiting puppet political candidates and so venomously attacking local elected officials for refusing to give him money. Taxpayer subsidies for sports stadiums are notoriously unpopular in Florida and nationally. By making the Miami Dolphins a political football in the battle over handing over taxpayer subsidies to absentee owners of sports franchises, Ross risks turning local residents against the Dolphins just as Miami Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria turned local residents against his baseball team after fleecing millions of tax dollars from local residents.