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New billboard targeting Rep. Matt Gaetz appears in Escambia County

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Pensacola News Journal March 26, 2019

Another billboard targeting Rep. Matt Gaetz has appeared above the streets of Pensacola this week.

A billboard with a mugshot of Gaetz along with the letters GOP but with the letter "O" replaced by sickle and hammer harkening back to the Soviet Union has appeared on North W Street outside the Pensacola city limits in Escambia County.

The billboard is the third in Pensacola paid for by the Mad Dog Political Action Committee and the second one to feature the infamous mugshot of the Florida Congressmen from a 2008 DUI arrest. The charges were later dropped.  

Claude Taylor, chairman of Mad Dog PAC and a Democratic activist, told the News Journal the message behind the billboard is simple.

"We put that one up targeting specifically Matt Gaetz just to remind him what a Putin and Trump toady he is," Taylor said.

In a statement to the News Journal released late Tuesday night, Luke Ball, press secretary for Gaetz said the congressman was more focused on protecting Northwest Florida's military mission, bringing jobs to the district and defending President Donald Trump.

"If this is what the Left has decided to spend their time, money, and resources on, so be it," Ball said. "Congressman Gaetz will continue to focus on the wellbeing of Florida’s First Congressional Disrtict."

U.S. Attorney General William Barr released a summary Sunday of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election that found Russia tried to influence the election, but found no proof that Trump's campaign conspired with Russia. Barr also said Mueller made no decision over whether the president obstructed justice but also did not exonerate him.

When Barr's letter was released, Gaetz declared it had vindicated what he's been saying for two years — that Trump did not commit any crimes.

"Now we're able to focus on legislating, not investigating," Gaetz said in a video posted to his social media accounts. "We're able to focus on bringing the country together, rather than dividing people the way the Democrats and so many in the media have done on this Russia story. I'm still convinced the best days for the Trump presidency, and the Trump economy and the United States of America are still ahead."

Taylor does not agree that Barr's summary is the end of investigations into Trump.

"It is my firm belief that Donald Trump will spend the rest of his life either in prison or avoiding prison," Taylor said. "We just have to get him out of office first."

Taylor said he didn't believe the release of Barr's summary hurt his effort to get his message out.

"So far this morning, I've heard from two TV stations and you (the News Journal), so I'd say the message is getting out there rather effectively," Taylor said.

Taylor has used Mad Dog PAC to raise money on the internet to fund his efforts and he said he's paid for billboards in more than 20 states targeting Republican politicians and groups like the National Rifle Association

Taylor added that in addition to billboards, they've put up banners, flags and even an inflatable Trump boat.

"We may even bring that and cruise that around Pensacola," Taylor said.

Taylor said he would likely do more billboards ahead of the 2020 election and will probably pay for another one in Gaetz's district, adding that he believes Gaetz loves Mad Dog PAC with a note of sarcasm.

"(Gaetz) blocked me on Twitter," Taylor said. "I can't imagine why."

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