The Democratic Party’s pick to unseat Florida Sen. Rick Scott (R.) wants taxpayers to cancel her thousands of dollars of student debt. She and her husband own a $3 million house.
That’s nearly three times what former Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell and her husband Robert Powell paid for their Pinecrest, Florida, abode in 2009. The couple dropped $1.15 million on the 4,600-square-foot home, which boasts six bedrooms and five bathrooms, according to Miami-Dade County deeds.
Now, Mucarsel-Powell wants help with her student loan debt, which totals anywhere from $15,001 to $50,000, according to her 2021 financial disclosure. In February 2019, Mucarsel-Powell complained that both she and her husband were still making loan payments.
"I’m still paying my student loans, so is my husband, my sister and close friends. We must tackle #StudentDebt & make education affordable," she wrote on X, formerly Twitter.
Mucarsel-Powell co-sponsored the No Student Loan Interest Act in 2019, which "provides for the cancellation of interest on certain federal student loans." In 2021, Mucarsel-Powell said, "the student debt issue is exactly the same issue we’ve had with healthcare in this country, a third payer system where the consumer loses & only the financial institutions profit."
Mucarsel-Powell's campaign did not respond to a request for comment.
Democrats have high hopes for Mucarsel-Powell, who is seeking to be the first member of her party elected to represent Florida in the Senate since 2012. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee appears to back Mucarsel-Powell’s bid, even though she lost her House reelection race in 2020. Following her announcement in August, the DSCC said in a statement that "Rick Scott is highly vulnerable" and "Debbie Mucarsel-Powell would be a strong candidate to defeat him."
Mucarsel-Powell’s husband owes up to $100,000 in student debt. Rather than pay it off, it appears he has stuck most of his earnings into real estate.
Where Robert Powell made his money is a matter of controversy. An attorney, Powell worked for firms owned by billionaire Ilhor Kolomoisky, a Ukrainian oligarch and one of the richest people in the country.
The Daily Beast reported that Powell made nearly $700,000 in just two years working for Kolomoisky’s firms. The business relationship drew concern from "longtime Ukraine watchers," the outlet reported.
Anders Aslund, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, told The Daily Beast that Kolomoisky’s alleged connections to "billion-dollar criminal schemes and contract killings" made Powell’s work with him "highly suspicious."
"When you work for a guy like that, you know what you’re dealing with," Center for Strategic and International Studies senior fellow Edward Chow said. "There should be no illusion of what you’re dealing with, even if the business you have to conduct for him in the United States is completely clean. You know where the wealth came from. There should be no reason not to know, because everyone knows."
Kolomoisky was arrested in September by Ukrainian authorities and is accused of laundering more than $130 million.
President Volodymyr Zelensky said Kolomoisky’s arrest was an example of his government cracking down on corruption and showed "no more decades-long ‘business as usual’ for those who plundered Ukraine and put themselves above the law and any rule." Ukraine revoked Kolomoisky’s citizenship as well.
After Republicans made historic gains in Florida last November, Mucarsel-Powell took to Twitter excoriate young people for not fighting harder to elect pro-debt-cancellation Democrats.
"Students & Gen-Z’s, take a look at what happens when you don’t participate, engage and vote for representatives that will put YOU and your future first," she wrote on Nov. 11 last year. "Republicans went to court to try and block [student debt] relief, Democrats won’t stop fighting for it."