Nearly a year after throngs of protesters led to the shuttering of a local satellite office, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio's staff has found a new home: the Sam M. Gibbons U.S. Courthouse, writes the Tampa Bay Times' Tony Marrero.
Last February, building management kicked Rubio's staff out of the small office they rented at 5201 Kennedy Blvd. following months of protesters lining the building's sidewalks seemingly daily.
Many of the protesters were part of the Indivisible movement, the Women's March and other groups that rose up in the wake of Donald Trump's election. Often, they would rally as an effort to draw attention to upcoming votes on controversial matters such as the confirmations of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
Some would enter the privately owned building, ostensibly out of a desire to talk to staff they said were unresponsive by phone or email.
Environmental and immigrant rights groups would often approach his office door with creative props to help entice media outlets to cover their causes.
Some were even threatened with trespass violations for entering the building and refusing to leave once it was clear they couldn't get an audience with anyone on staff.
Rubio rarely, if ever, makes himself available at the Tampa field office; it's unclear if he's ever even visited. Instead, he relies on staff to deal with a voluminous amount of phone calls, emails and letters urging him to vote a certain way on a given issue.
It's as yet unclear whether Indivisible Action Together Tampa Bay or any other groups plan to rally outside his new Tampa office.
Often, such groups find a timely controversy on which to focus their protests. If activists end up rallying outside Rubio's new Tampa digs this week, chances are the target would be the sudden and somewhat mysterious firing of his chief of staff for "misconduct."
As some members of the Indivisible Action Together Tampa Bay Facebook group noted, the Sam M. Gibbons U.S. Courthouse differs from the office's prior home in a couple of key ways: a) congestion and sparse parking options make it more difficult to assemble and b) a security checkpoint at the building's entrance, metal detector and all, could make it difficult to stage protests outside his office doors.