A South Florida lawmaker is making headlines after she attempted to use her connections to a Florida Power & Light company official to restore electricity to the homes of her family after Hurricane Irma struck the state last week.
Sen. Daphne Campbell, D-Miami Beach, sent a series of text messages to FPL’s Director of State Legislative Affairs John Holley last week with the addresses for her sister and her mother, requesting help to turn their lights back on after Hurricane Irma knocked out their power.
“Can someone help me with the power?” Campbell asked Holley in texts dated Sept. 11, just two days after Hurricane Irma made landfall in the Florida Keys.
Campbell then explained her mother was “sick” and “on oxygen” and texted Holley her sister’s address.
“Let me see what I can do,” Holley replied.
Campbell sent six more text messages over the next few days, requesting Holley’s help in turning her mother’s power back on after it went out again after the storm.
“The power for my mom off again,” Campbell wrote to Holley. “Can you please ask someone to take care of that ASAP?”
Holley appeared to be receptive to the requests, saying he would let someone at the state’s biggest electric provider know about the power outage.
Both FPL and Campbell acknowledged the text messages to Rise News, which first reported the news this week.
FPL denies giving Campbell priority over others in getting her power back.
“Senator Campbell did not receive preferential treatment, period," FPL spokeswoman Alys Daly told Sunshine State News.
Campbell called the incident a “shame” and said her phone had been stolen by the reporter who originally broke the news, Rich Robinson.
“Imagine we are all struggling together fighting for the needs of the vulnerable within our district and for someone to use delicate circumstances surrounding this situation for their own ploy is a disgrace,” Campbell wrote on Twitter Monday.
Campbell denies giving consent to Robinson to use her phone.
“It would be an understatement just to say how disappointed I am in this despicable, atrocious and malicious behavior,” she wrote.
Robinson told the Miami New Times he had made it clear he was a member of the media when speaking with Campbell. Robinson said he told the Miami senator numerous times he was a reporter and even had a large blue press badge hanging from his neck the entire time he spoke with her.
"I would like her to be held accountable,” Robinson told the New Times. “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.”
Sunshine State News contacted Campbell for further comment, but had not received a response at the time of this article’s release.
Campbell repeatedly said she was working hard to restore power to her district where some are still without electricity.
“My constituents have been suffering, still suffering and few will continue to suffer without electricity for a short period of time but by the grace of God, with my due diligence, the suffering will end soon,” she said.