John D. Couriel is running to be an advocate for the people of the 114th District in the Florida House of Representatives.
John was born and raised in Miami. His parents emigrated from Cuba as children in 1961. His father arrived through Operation Pedro Pan, an effort that resettled thousands of unaccompanied Cuban minors in the 1960s; he lived in camps run by the Catholic Church for about five years, until John’s paternal grandmother rejoined her children. John’s mother’s family settled in the City of West Miami, where John’s maternal grandfather managed a 7-11 store and, by 1967, had saved enough to buy the house that John would eventually call home. John’s parents worked hard – his dad sold tile and his mom was a secretary – so that their kids could thrive. John became an Eagle Scout and graduated from Christopher Columbus High School.
John worked his way through Harvard College and Harvard Law School. After graduation, he clerked for the Honorable John D. Bates of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, assisting the judge with criminal, civil, and national security matters. For five years, he practiced law at Davis Polk & Wardwell. He worked on many significant transactional and litigation matters, especially in Europe and Latin America. In 2009, John came home as an Assistant United States Attorney. As a federal prosecutor, he brought hundreds of felons to justice, focusing his efforts on Medicare fraud, identity theft, migrant trafficking and immigration crimes, violent crimes, and firearms offenses. He also successfully prosecuted several public corruption conspiracies, including a ring of fraudsters at the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles who were generating valid Florida driver’s licenses for illegal aliens, and a group of identity thieves at the Miami VA Hospital who compromised the Social Security numbers of hundreds of disabled veterans.
John is married to Rebecca L. Toonkel, M.D., a pulmonologist and critical care specialist. Rebecca, a graduate of North Miami Beach Senior High, met John when they were high-school debaters. They were classmates at Harvard College. Rebecca went on to train at Johns Hopkins Medical School, Columbia University’s New York Presbyterian Hospital, and the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Medical Center. John and Rebecca’s son, Jonas Aaron, was born in March 2011 and their daughter, Eden Sofia, was born in July 2012.
John was the Republican nominee for Florida State Senate District 35 in 2012. In his first race for elected office, he outraised his opponent, the former President of the Florida Senate, and received the endorsements of former Governor Jeb Bush, Senator Marco Rubio, the Florida Chamber of Commerce, and the Miami Herald.
John is now an attorney in private practice.