Even as the congressional district lines across the state have yet to be finalized as a result of the dragged-out redistricting process, Republicans vying to replace retiring Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D) in Florida’s 7th District continue to campaign in the district that may drastically change in the coming weeks. Two of the candidates considered frontrunners in that contentious primary race—Rep. Anthony Sabatini and Combat Veteran Cory Mills—continue to mix it up on social media.
After Rep. Sabatini called on all Republican candidates in Florida, including Cory Mills, to make a “PUBLIC PLEDGE” to push for the end of the “corrupt” and “special tax breaks” Walt Disney World currently accepts, Mills responded to the tweet by calling for a pledge of his own.
“Republican candidates and all elected officials should make a pledge to not buy, sell, or trade stocks including spouses and all staff while in office. I make this pledge and to donate 100% of my salary to charities in my district. Will you do the same Anthony? Public Service,” proclaimed Mills.
Mills, who has found himself in the crosshairs of the AOC-led Progressive "Squad" in the House of Representatives, has pledged that if elected to the U.S. Congress, he would donate his entire $178,000 annual salary to “local charities” within Florida’s 7th District, and challenged Sabatini to do the same.
In a response to our request for comment, Mills told The Floridian that growing up poor in a working-class family made up of “welders, farmers, and truck drivers” and being raised by his grandfather, not mention his enlistment in the U.S. Army, grounded and helped him become the successful husband, father, and business owner that he is today.
"I came from nothing. Though the grace of God, the guidance of my grandfather who raised me, and through hard work, service to my country, dedication to the rule of law, I was able to become who a I am today,"said Mills. "The American dream can be achieved through work. America is the greatest and freest nation in the world."
Rep. Sabatini and former SEAL Brady Duke did not return our request for comment, but former City of Debary Mayor Erika Benfield did.
Benfield says that when she served on the Debary City Council, she donated her $4,800 annual salary to “local civic organizations,” and would donate part of her congressional paycheck, were she to win the primary race and the subsequent general election later this year.
“My last paid salary in 2021 is a mere fraction of my opponent's financial report as he’s mostly self-funded. Public service is a family sacrifice as my husband currently has 3 jobs so that I can be without a paycheck while running for Congress,” said Benfield. “During a much healthier economy under President Trump, I donated my Vice Mayor salary for 4 years to local civic organizations and never wrote off an expense, and yes I plan to donate a portion back for sure once we retire these career politicians and stop inflation.”
In direct response to Mill’s pledge to donate his entire congressional salary to charity, Benfield took a veiled swipe at him, appearing to question his understanding of the plight everyday Americans are facing.
“We need more working class in Congress than millionaires so they understand what everyday Americans are facing to put food on the table. Not that I don’t commend Mill’s efforts but just like the widow that gave two cents because of her faith vs the rich donating to the church, I am running in faith because I’m fed up with the direction our country is going in and I will donate anything leftover what it cost to live in democrat overinflated housing costs in D.C,” added Benfield.
Former President Donald Trump largely self-funded his presidential campaign and pledged to donate his entire salary prior to winning the presidency over Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Currently, Sen. Rick Scott (R) also donates his entire Senate salary to various charities.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has called for a special legislative session to address the congressional district maps that have been submitted and vetoed.
The special session will take place April 19-22.