Rubio Still Doesn't Have A Tampa Office

Jul 6, 2017

Four months after his staff packed up and left its Tampa office, at the direction of a landlord frustrated by weekly demonstrations, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio still is looking for a home base in one of his state's largest metropolitan areas.

The Tampa Bay Times reports the Miami Republican's staff said it's working on finding an office.

Rubio's two-person staff has improvised, meeting constituents in coffee shops, libraries and other public spaces.

"We are committed to serving constituents, and staff continues to meet with them while we work to find office space in the Tampa region as soon as possible," said a statement emailed to the Tampa Bay Times by spokeswoman Christina Mandreucci. "Discussions with potential landlords are ongoing, and we hope to open a new Tampa office soon."

The owner of Bridgeport Center, a nine-story office center, notified Rubio's office Feb. 1 that the lease would not be renewed and that Rubio had 30 days to leave. The reason: Weekly demonstrations outside the building by activists seeking to pressure Rubio on a variety of issues. The protestors disrupted other tenants and cost the company too much money, Jude Williams, president of America's Capital Partners, told the Times in March.

News coverage of the decision put local landlords and property management companies on notice that Rubio could be a problematic tenant. That added another challenge in a tight rental market, where leasing fees are high and vacancy rates are low.

The arrangement raises questions about the logistics. Constituent services often involve working with documents that contain personal information. And some have raised questions about where sensitive files are being stored.

Rubio's office did not respond to a list of specific questions from the Times.

As inconvenient as it might be for Rubio's staff and some constituents, the delay in finding a new office has a political benefit: It removes a place for demonstrators to seek public attention in one of the state's largest media markets.

Before Rubio left the Tampa office, a variety of progressive groups were staging weekly demonstrations there to pressure him to hold town hall meetings and oppose President Donald Trump's agenda. The strategy has played out across Florida and the country.

In March, Rubio's landlord in Jacksonville asked him to leave, in part, because demonstrations disrupted a pediatric behavioral clinic next door, Rubio and his staff have said. That lease ended April 30, and Rubio found a space in the Bryan Simpson U.S. Courthouse the following month.