Representatives from the offices of Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Gov. Rick Scott report that neither will be attending the Florida Tea Party Convention scheduled for this weekend, despite their inclusion on the event’s agenda.
Both are included as speakers on the current convention agenda, along with a slew of right-wing activists and speakers.
Alex Burgos, Rubio’s communications director, tells The Florida Independent that the senator will not be attending the convention in Daytona Beach. Scott’s scheduling office also says that “at this time” the event is not on the governor’s “official schedule”. “Things could change,” a representative says.
The event will feature speakers such as former Christian Coalition director Ralph Reed, anti-Islam blogger Pam Geller and G. Edward Griffin. Griffin is an anti-Federal Reserve, anti-United Nations and anti-communist conspiracy theorist who describes himself as a “life member” of the John Birch Society – a historically infamous anti-communist group.
Geller is best known for her blog Atlas Shrugs, which has been described by The New York Times as a “site that attacks Islam with a rhetoric venomous enough that PayPal at one point branded it a hate site.” The attendance of Geller, and other anti-Islam activists, caught the attention of the Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-FL).
The group sent out a press release last week thanking Rubio and Scott “for declining to speak at next week’s Florida Tea Party convention.” The group says the event “features a presentation by anti-Islam extremist Pamela Geller and another Islamophobe.”
According to the release:
Along with Geller, the convention features AN anti-Islam activist who goes by the name “Bill Warner”. “Warner” (Bill French) and Geller are identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) as members of the “anti-Muslim inner circle.”
“We thank Senator Rubio and Governor Scott for avoiding the false perception that they would in any way legitimize anti-Muslim hatred by appearing at an event featuring hard-core Islamophobes,” said CAIR-Tampa Executive Director Hassan Shibly.
The Tea Party Convention will take place at the Volusia County Ocean Center Nov. 4-6. According to the convention’s website, sponsors of the event include Freedom Works, the Heritage Foundation, Americans for Prosperity, Craig Miller’s U.S. Senate Campaign and the Oath Keepers.