McFarland Speaks at CPAC, Preps for Session

Todays News

BY JACOB OGLES SRQ DAILY MONDAY BUSINESS EDITION MONDAY MAR 1, 2021

The biggest headliner at the Conservative Political Action Conference may have been former President Donald Trump, but it also served as a key event lifting the profile of state Rep. Fiona McFarland, R-Sarasota. The local lawmaker was the only sitting state legislator to be featured on the national event’s agenda. She spoke as part of the “Red Votes, Blue Votes: How to Win New Votes” training session on Saturday.

She expressed excitement at the chance to speak at the American Conservative Union event. “I hope just bringing people of different backgrounds and experiences to politics will encourage other people to run,” she said.

Notably, McFarland’s mother K.T. McFarland, former Deputy National Security Advisor under Trump, also participated in several events at the conference. And U.S. Rep. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota, led a breakout session there, “Familiarity Breeds Contempt: How Will China’s Neighbors Survive.”

The political event came weeks before McFarland gets ready for her first legislative session since winning a high-profile election in state House District 72, flipping the seat from blue to red. As she prepares for this legislative session, she will carry one of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ top priority bills, on consumer data privacy.

“It’s a very collaborative bill,” she said. “We need to think carefully about where our data goes, how it travels, who has control of it from an intelligence perspective.” It’s an arena she knows something about from her work as a consultant with McKinsey and Company working on similar policies in the U.K. She plans to speak with technology companies about policy but will remain focused on keeping the burden off consumers.

She stressed this legislation should be bipartisan, pointing to polling that shows as high a number as 90% of consumers feel their data privacy is important to them. Despite her appearance at a famously right-wing event like CPAC, McFarland said she intends to focus on broad-reaching issues in the legislature.

That could be critical representing the region’s one true purple district. The last four individuals for the community she represents include two Democrats (Margaret Good and Keith Fitzegerald) and two Republicans (Ray Pilon and Alex Miller).

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