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Did a Former Marco Rubio Intern Storm the U.S. Capitol on January 6?

As members of the far-right Proud Boys are being prosecuted for their roles in the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol — most recently the group’s Miami-born leader Enrique Tarrio — one lesser-known figure seen with them that day appears to have multiple ties to high-profile GOP politics in Florida and beyond.

In the months since the insurrection, online sleuths, including the group Sedition Hunters, have played a key role in helping to identify January 6 insurrectionists, such as Weston’s own #Tweedledumb. Recently, they’ve zeroed in on a woman they dubbed “#PinkGaiterPBG,” who appears to have been photographed inside the Capitol sporting a baseball cap with an American flag and a black-and-pink gaiter and later alongside Proud Boys Gabriel Garcia and Ethan Nordean (both of whom have been arrested and charged with felonies in connection to the insurrection).

Twitter user @ne0ndistraction claims #PinkGaiterPBG is actually Barbara “Barby” Balmaseda, a Florida International University (FIU) student and South Florida GOP strategist who interned for U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio between 2018 and 2019, worked as an organizer on Gov. Ron DeSantis’ 2018 campaign, and served as campaign manager for Ileana “LGBT is not a permanent thing” Garcia’s controversial 2020 Florida Senate race.

In a Twitter thread posted last week, @ne0ndistraction shared older photos of Balmaseda and images of #PinkGaiterPBG side-by-side, pointing out similarities in appearance, mannerisms, and accessories, including a distinctive ring Balmaseda wore at previous rallies and that #PinkGaiterPBG appears to have worn at the Capitol on January 6.

A former Vice City Proud Boy who was at the Capitol on January 6 and spoke on condition that he not be named for fear of retaliation, confirms to New Times that Balmaseda was there with Garcia. “Barby was there,” he says.

Balmaseda did not respond to New Times‘ requests for comment via Facebook, email, and phone. Rubio, DeSantis, and Garcia did not respond to New Times‘ requests for comment via email.

Balmaseda has not been charged in connection with the riot, nor has she addressed the allegations publicly. Since last week, her LinkedIn and Twitter accounts appear to have been deactivated.

Balmaseda is listed as director at-large on the website of Miami Young Republicans. Until recently, she served as regional director for Young Conservatives for Carbon Dividends (YCCD), a self-described free-market climate advocacy campaign.

A spokesperson for YCCD tells New Times that Balmaseda is no longer working with the group. Her name, photo, and bio, which appeared on the site just weeks ago, have been taken down.

“We condemn the attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6th,” a spokesperson for YCCD tells New Times via email. “This information [about Balmaseda’s alleged participation in the insurrection at the Capitol] was recently brought to our attention on March 13th. We weren’t previously aware of it.”

According to both parties’ Facebook profiles, Balmaseda is involved in a relationship with Brandon Diaz, executive director of the Miami-Dade GOP. Diaz did not respond to New Times‘ requests for comment via Facebook and email.

An FBI spokesperson declined to comment on the identity of the woman photographed wearing the pink-and-black gaiter inside the Capitol building or to disclose whether an investigation has been opened into Balmaseda, citing the ongoing investigation into January 6 attack.

Additional reporting by staff writer Joshua Ceballos.

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