This past February, state Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla used his powers as chairman of the state Senate's Judiciary Committee to prevent the Senate from voting on two controversial pro-gun laws. One would have allowed 1.5 million Floridians with concealed-weapons permits to openly carry handguns. The other would have allowed permit-holders to take concealed guns onto college campuses.
Diaz de la Portilla's decisions were perfectly legal, but gun advocates across the nation have since painted the veteran Republican as a stooge for left-wing groups and gun-control advocates. Now, some of those advocates are planning a march outside Diaz de la Portilla's Coral Gables house — and they're taking along noted goat-blood-drinking Libertarian candidate Augustus Sol Invictus.
"I think he's in the pocket of Michael Bloomberg," says 25-year-old organizer Jake Loubriel, referring to the former New York mayor who funded a $50 million gun-control education nonprofit in 2014.
Diaz de la Portilla, who is running for reelection to represent Florida's newly created State Senate District 37, represents the vast majority of Miami-Dade County in Tallahassee.
For Diaz de la Portilla, it's strange to be labeled a liberal-controlled gun opponent. For one, he's a Republican. For another, he has a concealed-carry permit himself. But he believes those bills he killed wouldn't have made anyone in Florida safer.
"Not agenda-ing those bad bills was really nothing more than common sense,'' he told the League of Women Voters during a February speech. He added that he would "rather spend the committee's time on [bills related to] mental illness and dealing with direct file of juveniles... dealing with quality-of-life issues that make sense for most people, not dealing with special-interest issues."
That didn't stop someone from editing Diaz de la Portilla's Wikipedia page in February to say he ignored "his role as a servant to the people." Loubriel, who lives in Fort Lauderdale, thinks Diaz de la Portilla ought to be impeached for that very reason.
"He's not doing his job as state Senator," he says. "He took an oath to uphold the will of the people."
Loubriel declined to say what he does for a living, just that he's into "a lot of things, like music, cars, politics, and IT." He describes himself as a "classical liberal," with some libertarian tendencies, who wants to see the government "exit all foreign bodies, like NATO and the UN," and pull out of all its foreign treaties, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the North-American Free-Trade Agreement. Loubriel's social media presence shows he's an avid reader of Alex Jones' Infowars website.
"I am not all-in on Trump," he says, "but I agree with him on a lot of the issues, especially when it comes to trade deals, when they screw us over."
Loubriel says he's far from the only person angry about the gun bills getting blocked. He says he's reached out to a bunch of "pro-Trump" groups in South Florida and Tallahassee and asked them to attend the protest.
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He also says he has confirmed that Augustus Sol Invictus, one of two Libertarian Party candidates for the U.S. Senate seat that Marco Rubio currently holds, will attend the rally. Invictus has made headlines for his unorthodox campaign. He refuses to give his real name, said he was a "friend" to white supremacists in front of a Miami Herald reporter this week, and admitted to killing a goat in 2013 and drinking its blood.
Loubriel says he expects anywhere from 50 to 75 people to show up outside the state senator's house next month. "I'm in contact with other pro-Trump groups and patriot groups, so it could grow to 100 to 300," he says.
Representatives at both Diaz de la Portilla's Miami and Tallahassee offices did not answer calls from New Times yesterday. But because the protesters are choosing to picket outside the lawmaker's home, his status as a Senate candidate seems pretty safe. That is, unless the demonstration persuades Diaz de la Portilla to impeach himself.