Florida Politician: People Think I'm Hispanic Because I Said I Was

“It is being reported that I have called myself Hispanic,” non-Hispanic Miami Beach City Commissioner candidate Kristen Rosen Gonzalez told Gawker.

MIAMI BEACH, FL - NOVEMBER 30: Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez speaks at Ugo Rondinone's "Miami ...
Gonzalo Marroquin/Patrick McMullan/Getty Images

Reporters are reporting things, that’s for sure. They’re reporting things, like say, that Kristen Rosen Gonzalez — a former City Commissioner in Miami Beach who stepped down to run for Congress, lost, and is now campaigning to win back her old seat — told a group of Democratic leaders in South Florida that she was “the most high-profile Hispanic Democrat in the city of Miami Beach,” even though she is not Hispanic. Here is what the candidate told Gawker in a text message this morning:

It is being reported that I have called myself Hispanic.

That is true. The local CBS Miami station, WFOR, reported it last night; so did the Washington Post earlier this morning. They also reported that Gonzalez suggested it would be “upsetting and confusing” for constituents if party officials endorsed one of her opponents, instead of her.

Perhaps this is because she has a special connection with her community. Rosen Gonzalez, who is running against four opponents in an election scheduled for Nov. 2, told WFOR that she is “perceived as being Hispanic.”

I’m perceived as being Hispanic by all of the Hispanics in my community. I’m their girl. My last name is Hispanic. I know I’m not Hispanic.

She is perceived as being Hispanic largely because she has held onto her married surname, Gonzalez, though the candidate divorced her ex-husband, Emilio Gonzalez, back in 2009. (Mr. Gonzalez did not return Gawker’s request for comment). The station noted that Rosen Gonzalez has “always played up her last name during her campaigns, with the word Gonzalez typically in much larger type on her campaign material.”

For those unfamiliar with Rosen Gonzalez, she has been a prominent personality around Miami-Dade County for years, serving on the City Commission in Miami Beach from 2015 until 2018, before running to replace outgoing Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in Florida’s 27th Congressional District, and losing the primary to Donna Shalala. Some of her most notorious hits:

• In 2016, she suggested that a proposed ethics regulation, which would require Miami Beach officials to disclose romantic relationships with people who might have ties to agenda items, was “shaming her for dating people.”
• That same year, she proposed the city fend off Zika-carrying mosquitos by attracting large numbers of bats.
• In 2017, she advocated for the removal of police body cams, and called to “give the cops back their bullets.”
• In 2019, she got an inquiry from the FEC about the remaining donations to her 2018 Congressional campaign, which she had failed to return in the 60-day window following her loss. Almost a month later, Rosen announced a new purpose for the funds: running for Congress in 2028. At the time, there were still four more general election cycles before her proposed run date.
• During her first congressional run, she told police to stop investigating a wealthy donor during an incident that got him branded as “Machete Man.”

This last incident, which got Rosen Gonzalez awarded “Best Chutzpah” by her frequent antagonist (and my former employer) the Miami New Times, unfolded in late 2017, while the candidate was running for Congress. Shortly after Hurricane Irma hit south Florida, an arms dealer named Erik Agazim “strapped on a Kevlar vest and military helmet, hung an assault-style rifle from his body, and grabbed a machete,” according to New Times, and proceeded to slash 11 fire alarms that had been set off by the storm. He slashed them with his machete.

Because destroying fire safety devices is a felony, Agazim was arrested (by one of the departments that buy guns from his business). But first, he texted Rosen Gonzalez, to whom he had already donated $2,700, the federal campaign contribution limit for an individual.

An image of the text Agazim sent to Rosen Gonzalez

In response, Rosen Gonzalez emailed the local police, calling Agazim an “upstanding businessman,” demanding they stop their investigation, and asking to sit in on his police interview. The Police Chief replied: “That would be inappropriate.”

But maybe that’s just how it was perceived.