UPDATE (4/22/2016): Sara Blackwell announced that she is ending her campaign in an April 22 blog post on ProtectUSWorkers.org titled, “Choosing Americans over Politics.” In the post, Blackwell cited fear of “a large smear campaign” that “could taint the public’s image of me in the lawsuits I currently have pending against Walt Disney World.” Blackwell added, “After speaking to my clients, I am choosing not to jeopardize their case by a probable attack which would attempt to taint the local jury pool.”
An attorney with ties to the organized anti-immigrant movement has announced she is seeking a seat in the Florida House of Representatives.
The Sarasota Herald-Tribune reported yesterday evening that Sara Blackwell has filed to run for the state House District 72. Documents from the Florida Department of State indicate that Blackwell filed on March 31.
In late August 2015, Blackwell launched the website ProtectUSWorkers.org. Weeks later, she traveled to Washington DC for meetings with several lawmakers that appeared to be arranged by anti-immigrant group NumbersUSA. “I am honored to be invited to the Numbers USA [sic] meeting to discuss issues of immigration,” Blackwell wrote on her blog at the time.
In the following months, media outlets began to uphold Blackwell’s lawsuits on behalf of laid-off Disney IT workers. Blackwell and her clients appeared on radio programs, were interviewed for local news segments, and were featured in IT-focused publications like Computerworld.
In January, this exposure culminated in the announcement of “a nearly $1 million ad campaign in the state of Florida” by flagship anti-immigrant group Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). The campaign was intended to promote FAIR’s revamped “FAIR Chance at Jobs” website. The ad buy, FAIR revealed at the time, included “radio, television and significant on-line media components.” Interviews with Blackwell and her client were featured in videos FAIR produced for the campaign.
Conservative outlets like Breitbart and radio show host Laura Ingraham have continued to offer Blackwell and her clients exposure in the ensuing months. One of Blackwell’s clients testified before the Senate Judiciary’s immigration subcommittee, chaired by notable ally to the organized anti-immigrant movement, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), in February. Blackwell has also begun giving presentations to conservative groups “to teach others so that we can fight and win.”
One group Blackwell has sought to teach are Donald Trump supporters. In February, Blackwell appeared on-stage at rally organized by the Trump campaign in Alabama. Blackwell similarly spoke at a Trump campaign rally in her home state of Florida early last month.
The seat Blackwell is running for has been vacated by Rep. Ray Pilon, who is pursuing a seat in the Florida Senate. Pilon is a member of State Legislators for Legal Immigration (SLLI), a coalition of state-level lawmakers that actively coordinates with anti-immigrant groups like FAIR.
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