Billionaire Florida donor rails against Trump
TALLAHASSEE — Billionaire health care mogul and former GOP megadonor Mike Fernandez has harsh words for Republicans who don’t stand up to President Donald Trump.
Story Continued Below
“All the Republicans who hide behind the flag and hide behind the church, they don’t have the f—— balls to do what it takes,” Fernandez told POLITICO Florida in a telephone interview on Thursday.
Fernandez, a Miami-area resident, has long been a political rainmaker and donor, spending $3.5 million in ads against Trump in 2016 alone. He has, however, grown disenchanted with the direction of political leaders at both the state and federal level. He left the GOP due to Trump.
“I am out of the political process. Too disgusted, too expensive, too supportive of ego maniacs whose words have the value of quicksand,” he wrote in an email to a Republican fundraiser seeking political contributions.
In the email, the fundraiser was referred to as “Debbie,” but in an interview he would not identify her.
He was a vocal opponent of Trump during the campaign, and spent roughly $3 million backing Jeb Bush’s failed bid for the White House. His disapproval of Trump has not waned, and he is now directing his ire at Republicans who won’t stand up to the president.
“It is demoralizing to me to see adults worshipping a false idol. I can’t continue to write checks for anyone,” he said. “I know what it’s like to lose a country.”
He called Trump an “abortion of a human being,” and hammered the New York developer in the harshest terms possible.
“If I was the doctor and knew what that baby would do, I’d have made sure it never would have seen the light of day,” he said of the president.
Fernandez, who is chairman of MBF Healthcare Partners, was also critical of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson for following along with the Trump administration’s foreign policy agenda.
“Why give up your own thought process,” Fernandez said of Tillerson, who was the former ExxonMobil CEO before joining the Trump administration. “This is someone who rose through the ranks of corporate America and probably has more money than Trump does, because [Trump] does not have what he says he has.”
His derision was not exclusively aimed at Washington. He says there is also no one currently in Tallahassee that he can support. He briefly served as the finance chairman for Gov. Rick Scott’s re-election campaign, but left and sent an email blasting the “paranoia” of some of the consultants running the race.
“He is probably the smartest, hardest working man I’ve ever met, but to lead you must have empathy,” Fernandez said. “He is emotionless. There is no passion, no sense of obligation, there is only a a sense of self-advancement.”
When asked about Fernandez’s comments, Scott Communications Director John Tupps said “Governor Scott cares deeply about our state and focuses every day on making it a better place for future generations.”
Fernandez said he is not currently planning on supporting any Republican in Florida’s race for governor. He has previously given money to Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, who is running, but said he will not do so in the future.
He also pointed out incoming state House Speaker José R. Oliva (R-Miami Lakes) who has feuded with Fernandez in the past, when talking about what he sees as problems with state political leaders.
The biggest clash between the two came in 2014 when Miami-Dade lawmakers blocked legislation that would have allowed Miami-Dade College to ask voters to approve a half-penny sales-tax increase to renovate classrooms. Fernandez supported the tax. Oliva then told the Miami Herald the college had enough money.
“[Oliva] came to my office and he said ‘this is why I was elected,’” Fernandez said. “There are some issues that are too complicated for the people to understand.”
“I said ‘Who made you the people’s dictator?'” Fernandez said he fired back at Oliva.
When asked about those comments, Oliva told POLITICO Florida that he was trying to protect the community from what would amount to a $1 billion tax increase.
“He was upset that one legislator was able to help prevent a highly influential billionaire from imposing a billion dollar tax increase on this community,” Oliva said. “If he [Fernandez] is tired of politics, he should stop playing politics.”
The lone person Fernandez praised was former state House Speaker Will Weatherford, who is considered a potential future candidate for statewide office. After leaving the Legislature, Weatherford got out of politics to form Weatherford Partners, an investment firm .
“I have great hope for Will Weatherford,” Fernandez said. “He did it the right way, not living off the government. When he left, people wanted him to run for Senate or governor, but he went home to build a financial foundation for his family.”
Weatherford said Fernandez has a “huge heart and I can understand his frustration with the current political process.” He joked “not this cycle” when asked about his political future.
In his email to the unidentified Republican fundraiser, Fernandez recalled a trip he and Weatherford took to Israel, where they met with the late Shimon Peres, the country’s former president and prime minister who died two years ago and was a friend of Fernandez.
In the email, Fernandez said that Peres gave one message to Weatherford: “Great leaders serve, they don’t rule.”
Article Provided By