Rep. Carlos Curbelo Blocks Twitter Critic Who Pointed Out He Doesn't Live in District

Rep. Carlos Curbelo
Rep. Carlos Curbelo Photo by Gage Skidmore / Flickr
U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo doesn't live in Congressional District 26, the swath stretching from South Miami-Dade to the Florida Keys that he represents in Washington. There's no big mystery why: When the Florida Supreme Court redrew his district in 2015, the new boundaries left him outside, according to state voting records.

But Curbelo apparently isn't a fan of that fact being highlighted on Twitter. The Republican congressman blocked a local activist last night who tweeted about the address discrepancy — just the latest local politico on the wrong side of growing court consensus that elected officials should not be allowed to block constituents on social media.

"Carlos Curbelo uses his social media account for political purposes yet blocks people who challenge him about legitimate concerns, like him not living in the district he claims to represent," says Tomas Kennedy, a local progressive activist who was blocked shortly after tweeting about the congressman's address.

Curbelo's office didn't immediately respond to New Times' request for comment.

Ironically, Curbelo's address controversy isn't the only one that blew up this week. His newly minted opponent for Congress, Democrat Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, doesn't live in District 26 either: The Miami Herald revealed yesterday she has rental property in the Keys but lives in Pinecrest.

But Curbelo would seem to have a better excuse for registering outside of 26. If the court's redistricting did leave him outside his voting area — an affliction that also affected fellow GOP Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart and Democrats Ted Deutch and Alcee Hastings — he has a readymade excuse for the problem.

Blocking activists who bring up the subject only draws more attention to the fact thanks to the Streisand Effect.

Kennedy says he tweeted about Curbelo's registered address last night after the congressman tweeted about his love for the Keys. Soon after, Kennedy was blocked from following Curbelo's official account.
That move is not only counterproductive but also runs afoul of state and federal judicial rulings. Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine has been sued for blocking his critics on Twitter and Facebook. And just last Friday, a federal court ruled that a Virginia official had violated the First Amendment by blocking naysayers on Facebook. A similar lawsuit against President Donald Trump over his Twitter blocks is pending in court.
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Tim Elfrink is a former investigative reporter and managing editor for Miami New Times. He has won the George Polk Award and was a finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.
Contact: Tim Elfrink