Miami State Sen. Daphne Campbell Keeps Calling the Cops on Reporters

Miami state Sen. Daphne Campbell
Miami state Sen. Daphne Campbell Florida House of Representatives
Democratic North Miami state Sen. Daphne Campbell is a lawmaker so ethically compromised that her own Miami-Dade County Democratic Party yesterday suggested she might be a Republican in disguise. Her latest reelection campaign seems in shambles — after a string of absurd headlines, including getting caught on camera passing around a handbag that a lobbyist was stuffing with cash, Campbell is trailing in polls behind challenger Jason Pizzo.

Today, she pulled another classic Daphne Campbell move and called the cops on Miami Herald reporter Sarah Blaskey for "threatening behavior," which apparently amounted to asking Campbell questions in public. Blaskey, who has reported critically on Campbell and recently nailed the state senator for likely living outside her district, had been covering a debate today between Campbell and Pizzo. Blaskey tweeted that the cops, naturally, didn't find Campbell's claim even remotely credible.

That's at least the second time in recent months the state senator has dialed 911 to report journalism in progress. Earlier this year, Campbell called Miami Shores Police because Rise News reporter Rich Robinson was filming her in public. Miami Shores Police found that Robinson also had done nothing wrong.

Campbell's latest attempt to get a reporter arrested for doing her job happened this afternoon at Duffy's Sports Grill in North Miami Beach, according to Pizzo. He says an officer walked up to Blaskey and said someone had reported "threatening behavior" from a woman wearing a floral dress. Pizzo said once the department realized what was going on, an exasperated cop said the call was bogus. (After this story first went online, the Herald has since posted its own account of the events.)

"The officer said something like, 'We have a lot of real stuff to deal with and yet we had to respond to this,'" said Pizzo, who was on the receiving end of insults from the state senator at both today's meeting and at a debate last night:

Pizzo called Campbell's actions "shameful" and accused her of lying about her voting record on topics including abortion and education.

This is not the first time Campbell has called the cops on a local reporter. On May 1, she accused Robinson, the Rise News reporter, of "stalking" her after the journalist showed up to a Miami Shores Village Council meeting to record B-roll footage of the lawmaker. He says he also ran into Campbell outside the council meeting and recorded "about 10 seconds" of Campbell walking to her car.

According to a copy of the May 1 police report, Campbell called Miami Shores PD just before 10:30 p.m. that night and met the cops at Café Crema on NE 125th Street. She specifically said she noticed a man "wearing a 'Rise News' shirt filming and taking pictures of everyone in the room." Campbell told the cops that when she witnessed Robinson filming her assistant Marie Eliancy's vehicle, she became worried since Eliancy transports her children in that car.

But Campbell knew Robinson worked for an outlet that had written critical pieces about her before. After Hurricane Irma, Robinson covered a combination Irma relief/massage/Scientology community event (you read that right) that Campbell held in her district. While at that meetup, Robinson filmed Campbell openly bragging about texting a Florida Power & Light lobbyist to help get her electricity repaired as a "favor." FPL denied helping Campbell, but the lawmaker claimed her lights popped right back on.

After Robinson outed her, Campbell responded by claiming she was merely helping her "sick mother" inside her home and accused Robinson of stealing her phone to take photographs of Campbell's texts. There were two problems with that narrative: For one, Robinson's photos of Campbell's phone clearly showed that the lawmaker was holding the device. And secondly, New Times later confirmed that Campbell's allegedly "sick mother" had been dead for years before the hurricane hit.

Campbell even told Miami Shores PD that she knew Rise News was the same outlet that had published the Irma story.

Robinson says the cops never bothered to contact him or Rise News about the complaint.

"She definitely knew who I was," Robinson says. "She knew our publication’s name since she mentioned it twice in the police report and mentioned our previous reporting, which was a story that became very problematic for her. But as journalists, we’re trained to follow the law. We never film without consent unless it's a public official in a public place. And I cannot think of a more public place in our democracy than in a parking lot outside a town council meeting."

(Robinson published his own, first-person account of his encounter with Campbell after this story was initially posted.)

Even among Florida politicians, Campbell is a renowned liar: When New Times called her in 2016 to ask about her history of foreclosures, Campbell answered her phone, initially said she was speaking, but cut the call off midway and suddenly claimed we had a wrong number. She said her name was actually "Rose" and that she didn't know Daphne Campbell.

In a recent Miami Herald story, even Campbell's own former campaign staffer, Nacivre “Charlie” Charles, said she "is a liar about almost everything."

Her family also owns a string of nursing homes that has been repeatedly accused of mismanagement, and her son was once sent to prison for Medicaid fraud. She also has had a litany of tax liens filed against her properties, about which she told the Herald, "I don't have no tax liens."

Robinson says he was troubled that a sitting politician would call the cops on him just for doing his job as a journalist.

"As a new media publisher, a guy who’s trying to start something in this town, I find it troubling somebody in power thinks they can bully reporters around," Robinson says. "I find it ironic that she’s a member of the Democratic Party — they say they’re the friends of the press. It will be interesting to see how the Democrats respond."
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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.