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Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Marco Rubio asked to vacate second Florida office due to protests

Posted By and on Tue, Mar 7, 2017 at 1:25 PM

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio was asked to leave his Jacksonville office, marking the second time this month Florida's junior senator has been asked to vacate a building due to ongoing protests.

The Tampa Bay Times reports Rubio spokesperson Christina Mandreucci said in a statement that the "unruly behavior of some anti-Trump protestors is making it more inconvenient for Floridians to come to our local office to seek assistance with federal issues."

Standing with protestors outside Rubio’s Orlando office on Tuesday, Debbie Smith hadn’t heard that the senator had been asked to leave his Jacksonville office and says she doesn’t want the same thing to happen here.

"It shows that we’re making some kind of headway, but it’s not the kind we want," Smith says. "We would prefer a town hall. We would prefer for him to come and meet with his constituents in-person."

Thomas Self, a representative from Rubio’s Orlando office at 201 S. Orange Ave., says he couldn’t answer questions about the office in Jacksonville and referred Orlando Weekly to a Rubio spokesperson but says that he doesn’t know of any plans to close the Orlando office.

Smith adds that although she initially thinks that people would be excited by the Orlando office closing should it happen, she doesn’t believe that’s what protestors are here for.

"It’s the place we need to come because it represents Rubio here in Orlando," she says. "I don’t think that’s the intention. I think our intention is to get him to listen, stop his talking points and actually hear us."

Rubio was evicted from his Tampa office last week after the constant protests became so disruptive that the owner of the building notified Rubio that the lease was terminated.

Protesters across the state have been trying to get Rubio to hold a town hall on various issues, including the Affordable Care Act and President Donald Trump's tax returns. Some protester groups have even held unofficial town halls and invited Rubio. In February, Rubio told protesters who caught him at his class at Florida International University that, "You don't want a town hall. You want to go to a place where you can scream."

The Times reports Rubio and his staff have until April 30 to leave the Jacksonville office. Mandreucci says the protests were disrupting a pediatric behavioral clinic next door. The offices, which are usually run by a small staff, are not "political or campaign" centers, but they are places where Floridians can ask Rubio for help regarding Medicare and Social Security.

"Those who disagree with President Trump and Senator Rubio certainly have a right to exercise their First Amendment rights, and most of them have done so in a productive and respectful way," Mandreucci says in a statement. "But unfortunately, some of them have chosen to do so in a manner that potentially hinders their fellow Floridians’ ability to receive help from our office."

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