Politics

Miami Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart Took $1,000 in NRA Money After Parkland Massacre

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart
Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart Photo by Saeima / Wikimedia Commons

Even in the "Gunshine State," the National Rifle Association is rapidly becoming politically toxic. After the Parkland school massacre February 14, every politician closely aligned with the NRA took a rightful beating: Sen. Marco Rubio was ridiculed on live TV during a CNN town hall, and GOP gubernatorial candidate Adam Putnam has still not lived down calling himself a "proud NRA sellout."

But according to federal disbursement data from the NRA's Political Victory Fund, the first South Florida member of Congress shameless enough to take cash from the NRA post-Parkland is none other than local GOP Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, who, according to federal records, cashed a $1,000 NRA check June 6. Diaz-Balart has accepted $2,000 from the NRA overall for his 2018 reelection bid, but half of that money came in 2017.

Politico first reported at the tail end of a story yesterday that Diaz-Balart took his last NRA donation June 6. According to the outlet, the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, a pro-gun-control group, has been targeting him for the $32,002 he's taken over the years from the NRA. (Rubio has cumulatively accepted a whopping $3.3 million, by the way.)

But the Politico story didn't note that no other Miami politician has directly taken NRA cash since the Parkland shooting:
click to enlarge FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION
Federal Election Commission
FEC filings show only two other Florida members of Congress have accepted checks directly from the NRA so far this election cycle: North Florida Rep. Ted Yoho apparently had no qualms about grabbing a $1,000 check from the Victory Fund in April, and fellow congressman, bog creature, and Borat-voice aficionado Matt Gaetz took a $1,000 check around the time Diaz-Balart accepted his.

Obviously, direct donations from the NRA aren't the only way Republican candidates benefit from gun-lobby cash. Hundreds of millions of dollars in NRA donations to state and federal Republican Party PACs and to other dark-money committees nationwide filter down to local GOP candidates in every election cycle.

Still, it's worth congratulating Diaz-Balart on being the first Miami-area politician representing a district near Parkland to roll over and openly take the NRA's cash again.

So congrats, Mario! Come claim your prize! You've won a dead kid!
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Jerry Iannelli is a former staff writer for Miami New Times from 2015 to March 2020. He graduated with honors from Temple University. He then earned a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University.