Politics

This Florida senator didn’t like the Miami Herald’s coverage — so she called the cops

Florida Senator Daphne Campbell, D-North Miami Beach, makes a call at a Duffy’s where she and opponent Jason Pizzo (seen kneeling and speaking) answered questions from voters.
Florida Senator Daphne Campbell, D-North Miami Beach, makes a call at a Duffy’s where she and opponent Jason Pizzo (seen kneeling and speaking) answered questions from voters.

Florida Senator Daphne Campbell called police Thursday on a Miami Herald reporter who asked her questions following an appearance at a public candidates forum at a North Miami Beach Duffy’s.

Campbell, a Democrat who is running for reelection this month in Senate District 38, called police at 1:24 p.m. after participating in a debate with her Democratic opponent, Jason Pizzo. A responding North Miami Beach officer who declined to give his name explained that police had been called by Campbell about threats made by a woman in a floral dress — a clear reference to the attire of Herald reporter Sarah Blaskey.

Police left without arresting anyone. But their appearance flustered attendees and the Social Citizens of Southeast Florida, which hosted the event in order to allow members to query the candidates on the issues. Afterward, president Dennis Stubbolo said he “was shocked.”

“I did not see anything go wrong. I was there,” he told the Miami Herald. “I don’t know where that came from.”

In response to a request for an interview about the incident, Campbell had her attorney, James Jean-Francois, call the Miami Herald. Jean-Francois said he was unaware of the incident and could not comment.

Campbell, who since first being elected to the state House in 2010 has been the subject of a number of Herald articles about Medicaid fraud investigations involving her family business and alleged ethical missteps, has accused the newspaper of racism and bias in favor of Pizzo. Her campaign complained this summer about Blaskey appearing at her home while investigating whether the senator lived outside her district in contravention of Florida Senate rules.

“You guys keep on harassing her all the time and she’s tired of you guys,” said a man who answered Campbell’s cellphone Thursday afternoon and declined to give his name.

Campbell called police following a question-and-answer session, as attendees began to munch on $12 lunches. She first refused to grant an interview with the Miami Herald and told Blaskey to email all her questions. When Blaskey continued to listen to her conversation with constituents, Campbell walked away, sat down at a table and made a phone call.

This isn’t the first time Campbell has called police on a reporter. RISE NEWS published an article Thursday explaining that Campbell had called police on publisher Rich Robinson outside a Miami Shores Village Council meeting in May. A police report posted to the publication’s website states that Campbell explained to an officer that she recognized Robinson as the RISE reporter who documented text messages she sent to a Florida Power & Light lobbyist after Hurricane Irma in order to get the power turned on at her home for her “sick mom.” (Campbell’s real mother died in 1996.)

In a statement, Robinson said he filmed Campbell walking to her car from the sidewalk following the public meeting in order to get what’s known as B-roll in television parlance for future stories about Campbell. “State Senator Daphne Campbell called the police on me for committing an act of journalism.”

Miami Herald Managing Editor Rick Hirsch said the newspaper expects its reporters to ask questions of public officials.

“Asking a public official questions in a public place is perfectly appropriate,” he said.

Miami Herald reporter Sarah Blaskey contributed to this report.

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