Marco Rubio was a rising star in the Senate; a young Cuban-American representing Florida, who was actually born in Cuba. Unfortunately when he arrived in Washington, DC although he had high hopes to change and be a part of the anti-establishment, he “drank the DC Kool-Aid” becoming one of them; starring in the 2013 “Gang of Eight” immigration reform plan.
When Rubio ran for president, he was backed by the establishment as possibly the first Hispanic president and had big money PAC’s behind him. He was one of Jeb Bush’s protégées` and was a favored to win. However it soon became clear he was no match for Donald Trump and he fell and fell hard. Although he had made a pledge to support the winning candidate he, like all of the other candidates, abandoned their pledge in un-sportsmanlike behavior.
Now Rubio has “jumped” into the Senate race in Florida, hoping to bank on his past successes. But he has competition.
Now there is a new “star” in town down in Florida and his name is Carlos Miguel Beruff and he is definitely a supporter of Donald J. Trump. He is a husband, a father, and a successful businessman; a Manatee County home builder. He is running for Senate on the Republican ticket, hoping he will become Florida’s third Cuban-American U.S. senator and the successor of Marco Rubio’s Senate seat.
Carlos Miguel Beruff was born in 1958 in Miami to Sylvia Vilarello and Marco Tulio. His parents fled Cuba when they were involved in a botched March 1957 attack on Fulgencio Batista’s presidential palace, and were being chased by Bautista’s police, having to go into hiding. His parents ran to Miami, Florida, where their son, Miami Herald: Carlos was born on New Year’s Day. The Beruff family returned to Cuba when Fidel Casto came into power, but they soon found that life wasn’t any better with him ruling Cuba than it was when Bautista was.
Sylvia and her son Carlos returned to Miami in 1961; his father, who he would not see for decades stayed behind. In 1970, Sylvia remarried Carlos Tepedino, a Coral Gables jeweler who ran La Diadem Jewelers in the Havana Hilton prior to the Castro regime’s takeover. Tepedino, the man who Beruff considers his father, worked for the CIA in the 1950’s and tried to recruit an assassin to kill Castro, declassified CIA records report.
When Beruff was 12 years old, he and his parents decided to relocate to New York City, but returned to Florida in 1973 for Beruff to finish high school and go to college there. Even though he never earned a college degree, Beruff worked in the jewelry business with his step-father, first in Tampa and again in New York City. Beruff’s then-girlfriend, Christine DeSantis, stated that New York did not work for her. DeSantis was a small town girl from Ohio, whom he later married. “New York was just overwhelming for her,” Beruff said. “She was going to leave me. So when you are in love you just, you know — we went back to Tampa.”
Beruff’s career in jewelry ended in 1980 when he answered a newspaper ad; U.S. Home was hiring salesmen in Sarasota to sell homes. “I knew nothing about selling houses,” Beruff said. “I couldn’t even spell mortgage.” But he explained that the ads were promising $3,000 a month, plus commission. Given he was making $28,000 a year Beruff said the path was clear.
“Beruff had a talent for sales,” said Pat Neal a developer who met Beruff in the early 80’s as a competitor. “It was his directness,” Neal explained, adding that Beruff was selling homes where others failed. In 1984, Beruff built a company called Medallion Homes and teamed up with Neal on projects that “made me a lot of money,” Neal stated.
1996-1999 were tough years on the builder. At 34, he was a college drop-out who had experienced a fast ascent in the real estate business. But then he accrued a $20 million debt, at one time fending off more than a dozen subcontractors who were suing him for more than $150 million in unpaid bills, “life was hard for me,” he explained. He went to near bankruptcy, moved into a smaller house and after 14 years of marriage, he and his first wife divorced in 1996. “I had some miserable times there for two or three years, but I didn’t file bankruptcy.”
His friend, Steve Jonsson, a banker who had known Beruff for about ten years , feared his friend/client was having a meltdown. But the tough and fighting Beruff went to his creditors and argued for more time to pay off his debts and his confidence won over his critics. But afterwards Beruff said with conviction: “I am never going down this road again. It was youth and stupidity that put me at that point.”
In 2010, Medallion was found to be using defective Chinese-made drywall in a few of their homes. It was found that more than 7,000 homes in the U.S. have been found to contain this drywall, which investigations have found emit sulfur gas that can corrode electrical wiring and trigger respiratory irritation. A national class-action suit against Medallion and other builders that was resolved in 2012; Medallion was ordered to fix the damaged homes.
A rival Republican in the Senate race, U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis (no relation to his ex-wife Christine), created a malicious website, citing Beruff of “shady business practices” because of the drywall lawsuit issue.
In 2010, Beruff remarried Janelle Knight, a civil engineer for a Medallion subcontractor. There is a 22-year gap in their ages, but Beruff states, “She is so much more mature than I am.” Janelle and Beruff now have a two year old son and they are expecting another child this summer; Beruff has an eighteen year old son by his first marriage.
Building back his business segued into politics. Beruff has backed more than a few politicians, paying more than $73,000. He uses 17 business entities under his control to donate $36,000 to Republican gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist and the Republican Party of Florida, under Crist’s control when he won the primary. Beruff has put more than 1 million into political campaigns since 2001.
In appointments these contributions have paid off richly; Crist appointed Beruff to the Sarasota-Bradenton Airport Authority, a water management board and the Florida State College board of trustees and Gov. Rick Scott re-appointed him, who donated $100,000 to Scott’s campaign and political action committee, to all three boards and put him in charge of special projects and to ferret out waste and abuse.
In 2011, Beruff as a board member of Florida State College, put all of his attention on Lars Hafner, a college president, and questioned his salary and benefits, probing amounts spent for the school’s tennis center and a failing charter school, championed by Hafner who is a Democrat and a former state legislator. According to Hasner, Beruff hired a handwriting expert to prove that Hafner forged documents that he said he signed with permission and in a private meeting, Beruff allegedly threatened Hasner, demanding Hasner resign or Beruff stated he would destroy the man’s career- a claim which Beruff denied.
Although a state law enforcement report cleared Hafner of wrongdoing, the board, with Beruff at the wheel, went after Hafner’s for his resignation until he resigned.
McClash, a Republican former Manatee County Commissioner had become somewhat like a Democrat in pushing restrictions on development. And Beruff had paid more than $61,000 into the Republican, Betsy Benac and into a political action committee, running ads against McClash, who had lost in 2012 by 494 votes. McClash states, “He’s a dangerous man,” and he compared Beruff to a dictator who refuses to give up on anything until he wins.
According to Beruff, none of his political fights are personal. He called McClash “a career politician who lost his way.” This attitude and methods are not unlike the philosophy he brings to the Senate race. In his ads he rails against “career politicians” and says his “outsider approach will clean up Washington.” And after decades of giving money to other people for their elections to get the job done in DC, he decided it was up to him to try.
Beruff is a blunt man and “says it like it is” as Donald Trump does. He like Trump, talks about the dishonest “political crap” in ads, calls other government appointees “morons” and “idiots” and refuses to back off calling Obama an “animal” and is quick to respond “Hell no” when he disagrees with a question. Beruff only goes so far in comparing himself to Trump as they are both businessmen, but claims he is not trying to imitate Trump. He was not born rich, like the New York billionaire, and he has had to make hard choices and it took more than five years of working with the creditors and bankers to recover from his near-ruin financially.
“Everything I’ve learned, I’ve learned with the beatings I’ve gotten from all of the bad choices I made,” said Beruff, now 58. He is relentless, focused and methodical in his dealings. He is driven to win and win big, even eviscerating his opponents.
According to Beruff’s press secretary, Joanna Rodriguez, “Carlos is an outsider focused on bringing real change to Washington. The fact that our opponents are this desperate to attack Carlos shows how scared they are of a true outsider (kind of like they attack Trump). This is the type of nonsense that the voters in Florida are sick and tired of and it’s sad to see the media and others playing along.”
Beruff has claimed that he does not plan on becoming part of the establishment and that he is “bringing his own water supply.” He also claims he wants to “work closely with Trump bringing about real change for America.” Beruff is funding his own campaign, spending up to five million dollars and has reportedly told his staff he will put up ten to fifteen million more if needed for his campaign.
With Donald Trump as the Presumptive Presidential Nominee, Paul Nehlen in Wisconsin running on the Republican ticket for Congress against Paul Ryan, and Carlos Beruff looking to replace Marco Rubio in his Senate seat, we are finally seeing some fresh faces to challenge the establishment and clean up Washington, DC to Make America Great Again. More to come…