Congressman Ross Spano (R-FL) dropped by News Channel 8 for a sit-down interview on Politics On Your Side with News Channel 8’s Evan Donovan.
Rep. Spano, who represents Florida’s 15th Congressional district, covering Eastern Hillsborough, Northern Polk and parts of Lake counties, talked about his impressions of Capitol Hill as a freshman congressman. He said there’s much more political theater going on than actual lawmaking–but there are some bright spots.
“The Florida delegation–Republicans and Democrats–work together a lot more than we think they would when it comes to issues of Florida import,” Spano said.
“Like the moratorium on drilling off the coast, as it relates to the seasonality potential issues with regards to the USMCA, we’re hanging together as a delegation, so that’s encouraging,” Spano said.
The government was shut down when Spano first reported to Congress in January, so he and his team filed a deadline enforcement act to prevent future government shutdowns. He also filed a bill to prevent federal employees who commit sexual abuses in their official capacity from receiving a pension.
He’s also proud of a bill he calls the “Boots to Business Act” which requires the Small Business Administration to work with active duty servicemembers on developing their businesses as they leave the armed forces, a bill with some similarities to one filed by Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke last month on a visit to Tampa.
Rep. Spano also responded to issues regarding multiple investigations into the investigation into Spano’s campaign finances that have dogged him since he entered office.
Spano reportedly borrowed around $180,000 from two friends, then lent that money to his campaign last year. That type of “straw donation” can be illegal depending on the circumstances, because it gets around the 2018 cap of $2,700 of individual contributions to political campaigns.
Spano said he has since borrowed the money from the bank to pay those people back. Now the campaign owes him the money, but said he doesn’t have to repay himself that loan if he chooses.
“I’ll admit it, I made an honest mistake,” Spano said. “I addressed it immediately. I self-reported. I didn’t have to. I immediately paid those private loans back.”
Spano also admitted that Republicans have failed to come up with a viable solution to replace Obamacare, and said they cannot simply be the ‘party of no’.
“Insurance companies still have the ability to monopolize the market,” Spano said. “We need to get rid of that. Maybe we think about out-of-the-box solutions, like direct primary care. The problem is, that would cut insurance carriers out of the market, and they’ve been fighting that.
Rep. Spano also said he does not believe climate change is caused by man-made activity.
“What is the cost of addressing it?” Spano asked rhetorically. “Are we willing to accept that cost?”
Watch Politics On Your Side every Sunday morning on News Channel 8 at 9:30 am, right before Meet the Press.