Florida State Senator Daphne Campbell tried to use her connection to a Florida Power & Light (FPL) lobbyist to turn on power for members of her family, one day after Hurricane Irma impacted South Florida.
Campbell made the claim herself, at an event in North Miami on Saturday night.
While most politicians usually downplay their relationships to lobbyists, Campbell is proud of her connection to FPL, especially at a time when millions of Floridians have had to rely on the utility to turn their power back on.
Campbell is so proud of this connection that she let RISE NEWS take pictures of text messages between herself and FPL lobbyist John Holley.
The text messages show Campbell trying to get power turned on for members of her family.
At 1:55 PM on Monday afternoon, Campbell texted Holley:
“John good afternoon. Can someone helps [sic] me with the power. I do have a sick person in my house and she’s using oxygen. The address is… [address redacted]. Same than my children’s house…[address redacted]. Thanks Senator Campbell.”
Two minutes later, Holley responded:
“Let me see what we can do. It’s ugly out there. How are you doing?”
Six minutes later, Campbell responded with a new request:
“[Address redacted]. This one is my sister.”
After a series of text exchanges about the conditions in her district and the lack of Creole language FPL outreach, Campbell double backed to her initial reason for contacting Holley:
“Thank you very much but my sister one [sic] still not on yet. Million thanks. My sick mom thanked you too.”
Holley responded nine minutes later:
“Working on it.”
A few hours later, Campbell sent:
“The power for my mom off again. Can you please ask someone to take care of that ASAP.”
Three minutes later, Holley responded:
“I will def [sic] let them know.”
RISE NEWS is not able to independently verify at which point the power came back on at the houses of Campbell’s family members.
FPL refused to supply that information, citing customer privacy.
But Campbell claims that the power came back on almost immediately after she sent her requests to Holley.
“As soon as I sent it, the guy got it done,” Campbell said. “This man is phenomenal. He is awesome. He’s great. As soon as I text him an address, you got the light.”
When reached via phone Saturday night, Holley refused to comment.
An FPL spokesperson admitted that the text message exchange did occur but that Holley did nothing improper.
“I am positive that she did not receive special treatment,” FPL spokesperson Mark Bubriski said via phone.
Campbell, a Democrat, is one of only 40 elected members of the Florida State Senate.
Her district comprises much of northeast Miami-Dade County including Miami Beach, Aventura, North Miami, Miami Shores, and large chunks of the city of Miami, including the Midtown and Wynwood neighborhoods.
Many of those areas were among the worst hit by Hurricane Irma in South Florida due to pockets of strong wind gusts that ravaged tree-lined streets, according to FPL.
Large parts of Campbell’s district, including the entire city of Miami Beach were under a mandatory evacuation order due to fears of devastating storm surge from Irma.
Residents weren’t allowed back to Miami Beach for days after the storm.
The text message record shows that Campbell also used her perceived direct line to FPL to forward power restoration requests from constituents who aren’t blood relatives.
Campbell showed RISE NEWS texts and Facebook messages from dozens of constituents and people from other districts desperate to get their power turned back on.
Campbell said that anytime someone reached out to her about a power outage, she forwarded it on to FPL lobbyist John Holley.
These included requests from a Miami Beach synagogue, primary care clinics in Miami and Lauderdale Lakes, an Aventura nursing home and scores of private residences that had been without power for days.
“Something Can Be Done About It”
Campbell gave RISE NEWS remarkable access to her communications with an FPL lobbyist at an event that she was obviously proud of.
The event- a joint effort between Campbell’s Senate District 38 Youth Taskforce and the Church of Scientology was touted as a way to relax from Irma related stress.
“Let’s have a massage and a pizza party post Irma”, the official event flyer said.
The event was held at Campbell’s company office, the Florida Nurses Home Health Agency located at 640 NE 149th St in North Miami.
Music blared as Campbell sat under a tent provided by the Church of Scientology that declared “Something Can Be Done About It”.
A young French national named Maelle Loeffler, a member of Scientology International, provided “massages”- at least what unsuspecting guests were told were massages.
In reality they were what Scientologists call an “assist“, a process developed by L. Ron Hubbard himself.
Campbell’s close relationship with the Church of Scientology began in 2010.
She said that after the earthquake devastated her home nation of Haiti, the church gave her nursing group a plane to fly down to the country.
The Miami chapter of the Church has been an integral part of Campbell’s response to Irma.
“Senator Campbell is one of the active participants in the community and we’ve found that she actually is involved in helping,” Katrina Furlin, the Director of Community Affairs for the Church of Scientology Miami told RISE NEWS. “For the past three days, we’ve been consecutively helping her do whatever she needs for the community.”
Campbell danced with constituents at the event and talked often about her achievements.
She claimed that she ordered 1,000 pizzas to feed the small crowd at the event.
She repeatedly bashed other Miami politicians for not doing enough to help people in the aftermath of Irma.
She attacked fellow Democrat and Haitian-American politician Miami-Dade County Commissioner Jean Monestime for not showing up to help relief efforts at North Miami shelters.
“I didn’t see Jean Monestime at all,” Campbell said. “We all the same ability. But if the other people don’t do it, I’m not responsible. I took an oath to serve everyone in District 38. My district is a progressive district. It’s a diverse district so of course I have to help them. If other elected officials don’t do what they’re supposed to do, then I’m sorry to Floridians. We all took a oath to make sure we abide to the law to help people.”
Campbell summed up why she feels that people turned to her to get FPL to get their lights back on.
“Everybody’s only calling one person, Daphne Campbell,” she said. “They know I’m a people person. That’s why I’m unbeatable.”