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Marco Rubio, lobbyist or lawyer?

I guess there’s no question which side of the Marco Rubio – Charlie Crist senate primary race the Miami Herald is pulling for.

Thinking they had caught Rubio in a “gotcha moment”, you can almost hear the writer’s evil bwahhhhhhhh as they penned this article

Boy we missed this one: former House Speaker Marco Rubio and U.S. Senate candidate was a Miami-Dade County lobbyist from 1997 (when he was a West Miami Commissioner) until 2005. By then, he secured the needed votes to become House Speaker. Also that year, he reported a new salary of $300k with his new firm, Broad & Cassel, which has had dozens of clients who do business with the state.

Rubio never talked about his lobbying and that’s because, his campaign said, he wasn’t really a lobbyist. He was a lawyer representing clients.

“The reason Marco Rubio never spoke about his “lobbying” is because he was never a “lobbyist,” in the Tallahassee-influence-peddling sense of the word that Charlie Crist is all too familiar with,” said campaign spokesman Alex Burgos, who has wayyyy more to say on this below****.

Still, it’s called a lobbyist registration by Miami-Dade. So the ‘L’ word is tough to avoid, though early stories on him running for the Legislature in 1999 merely identified as commissioner and a lawyer.

His entire bio underscores that Rubio, despite his supporters describing him as an outsider in his race against fellow Republican Gov. Charlie Crist, is a consummate insider. Consider: City commissioner, lawyer, lobbyist*, one-time Republican Party of Florida American Express card holder, top echelon House leader and, ultimately, House Speaker, Jeb Bush sword-of-Chang bearer.

As a registered lobbyist, his clients ranged from developers to a couple fighting code enforcement to a company that wraps bags at Miami International Airport.

Here’s the response to the “lobbyist” charge from Marco’s campaign.

We just want to clarify something you reported on your blog, and ask for an on-the-record correction to the implications you made. Feel free to quote from or reproduce this in its entirety.

The reason Marco Rubio never spoke about his “lobbying” is because he was never a “lobbyist,” in the Tallahassee-influence-peddling sense of the word that Charlie Crist is all too familiar with. Marco Rubio worked as an attorney for law firms that did Request for Proposal (RFP) and land use work in Miami-Dade County. Out of an abundance of caution, law firms engaged in this type of work often register their lawyers as lobbyists. In fact, all lawyers representing clients on land use matters are supposed to register as lobbyists. While Marco worked on land use contracts and RFPs, he never met with elected officials to influence them on behalf of clients.

This has the whiff of a pitched story from Team Crist, which is kind of ironic since the bulk of Charlie Crist’s support these days comes from well-heeled special interests. It would be tough to walk down Monroe Street or the Capitol Rotunda without running into a lobbyist who has stroked a check to Charlie Crist. Or two checks for that matter – one for the primary, and one for the general election. It would also be difficult for those same lobbyists to resist the temptation to whisper that the only reason they have contributed to Charlie Crist is because he still holds the veto pen. Charlie Crist counts many lobbyists as backers and, come to think of it, even his most senior ranking political advisor is, you guessed it, a lobbyist.

But we digress.

The reality is that this campaign is bigger than these silly attacks from Charlie Crist and his allies. Marco Rubio earns a living as a lawyer, the same profession Charlie Crist purports to once have practiced. Marco is proud of how he has provided for his wife and four children, and the sacrifices he and his parents have made to put him through law school.

In the end, this campaign isn’t about Marco Rubio, it’s not about the lobbyists who support Charlie Crist, and it isn’t even really about Charlie Crist either. It’s about the issues Floridians care about. And what they care about most is how there are now 1,087,000 Floridians out of work despite Charlie Crist’s assurances to the contrary almost a year ago when he shared a stage with President Obama.

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