Update: FPL spokesperson Mark Bubriski told the Miami Herald that Campbell did not receive help because of her position. “She did not get special treatment,” Bubriski said. “It’s just absurd.”
North Miami state Sen. Daphne Campbell has been ensnared in a remarkable series of corruption scandals throughout her career. But even for Campbell, her response to Hurricane Irma was nothing short of jaw-dropping. This past Saturday night, Campbell hosted a post-Irma "relaxation" party, complete with pizza, massages, and Scientologists, because of course she did.
Things began weirdly — the so-called massages were actually Scientology techniques called "assists" that the group's followers use to "heal spiritual wounds" or try to bring recently deceased people back to life — and only grew weirder. At the party, Campbell openly bragged about using her connections to a Florida Power & Light lobbyist to try to get power restored at her house and her sister's home before the rest of Miami's residents. She made this admission on-camera to a reporter with Miami's Rise News. She then let that reporter take photos of the
This fact is important, because Campbell is now absurdly trying to claim a reporter stole her phone to take screencaps of the text messages.
"My phone mysteriously disappeared," Campbell claimed in a statement posted online yesterday. She added that she "gave no consent to anyone to use my phone" and that her phone just "suddenly reappeared" where she last saw it.
But you can see her hand holding the phone in the photos posted online. The reporter, Rise News' Rich Robinson, told New Times via phone yesterday that he repeatedly told Campbell he was a reporter — and wore a huge blue press badge around his neck the entire time he interviewed Campbell and filmed her admitting everything.
"She's lying, number one," says Robinson, a former New Times intern who later founded Rise. "I would like her to be held accountable. It's really dangerous to think she can come after a new company in town and say something that's accusing me of doing something basically illegal. It's horrific, chilling, and an assault on the First Amendment."
Despite the fact that trying to use her ties to FPL to help her relatives is a clear case of public corruption, Campbell seemed proud of what she did until the public got wind of the messages and became angry. As of 7 a.m. Monday, more than 56,000 Miamians still did not have power, and some of those residents questioned why Campbell deserved to get her power back simply because she knew an FPL bigwig.
"John good afternoon," Campbell texted the lobbyist, according to Rise's screencaps. "Can someone
"Let me see what we can do," Holley texted back. "It's ugly out there. How are you doing?"
She then immediately texted
Rise News was unable to confirm with Holley or FPL whether the texts resulted in her family's power being restored. But Campbell repeatedly bragged that her lights popped back on remarkably fast, in what appears to be a clear favor for a state politician at the expense of her own constituents.
Getting a massage while eating pizza with Scientologists is the perfect post-Irma stress release, according to this Florida state Senator pic.twitter.com/3yqBUXhPBX— Matt Dixon (@Mdixon55) September 16, 2017
But now that Rise's story is online and everyone is mad at her, she's now trying to claim she was somehow hoodwinked into all of this. But her story doesn't hold up under even the most basic levels of scrutiny.
Most of her eight-paragraph public statement is devoted to how "hard she worked" for her constituents this week. That might be true. But even within the statement, she admits to texting Holley and asking for a favor from FPL. She accuses Robinson of coming to her event "in order to sneak away my phone to steal information from the text messages I use to help my people." [sic]
Robinson denies he stole anything and points to the fact that the photos show the phone never left Campbell's hand.
"She just keeps talking and talking and talking about how great she is, how many people she’s helped," Robinson says. "She then says, 'Hey, why don’t you take a picture of this?' She initiated me taking a picture of her phone because she wanted me to be able to verify this. The entire time, she was holding her phone. I took 56 pictures of her phone, and in 54 of the photos, you can visibly see portions of her hand."
The rest of Campbell's letter makes an even less compelling argument.
"I am aware there are hundreds of competing news media out there and I know it is rough for them because if they do not have false news they won't make it," Campbell wrote. (We honestly do not know what that sentence means.) "But, why choose NOW?"
She then lamented that as a "mother, someone's child, someone's sister," she does "not deserve this kind of treatment."
But if anyone deserves to be constantly called out for propagating a ream of mindless bullshit, it's Campbell. Prior to entering politics, she ran a series of assisted-living facilities across Florida that have been plagued by bankruptcies, shady dealings, and accusations of fraud. Campbell's secretary was once arrested for defrauding her constituents, and Campbell's son was once sent to prison for Medicaid fraud.
Campbell is also remarkably similar to Donald Trump, in that both elected officials lie in such an absurd manner that the basic tenets of reality no longer seem to apply to them. Last year, a New Times reporter called Campbell's personal phone number to ask about why more than ten foreclosure proceedings had been filed against her properties in the past. (New Times called the official number she gave the Florida Division of Elections in order to run for office.)
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Campbell initially answered the phone and confirmed she was speaking. But after New Times asked about the foreclosures, she said the reporter had called the wrong number and hung up.
She then called back from the same number and said her name was Rose. She refused to give a last name.
"Why do you want to know my last name?" she asked. "My name is Rose. You cannot have my last name. I don’t have anything to do with you."
Last November, voters promoted Campbell from state representative to state senator.