Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Former FL legislator who wrote 'Don't Say Gay' bill pleads guilty to fraud, faces up to 35 years in prison

Former FL legislator Joe Harding

I posted about the hypocrisy of former FL GOP state legislator Joe Harding last year when this first went down. The follow-up is an appropriate reminder.

From Raw Story

Joe Harding, the now-former Florida Republican lawmaker who authored the extremist “Don’t Say Gay” bill could face up to 35 years in prison after pleading guilty Tuesday afternoon to federal felony fraud charges in a scheme to obtain $150,000 in COVID-19 relief funds, according to Florida Politics‘ publisher Peter Scorsch. 

 Harding, 35, was a construction project manager who started his own lawn care company. He quickly became a right-wing darling after his anti-LGBTQ legislation, officially the Parental Rights in Education Act, was embraced by Florida GOP Governor Ron DeSantis, who signed it into law. Harding was charged in a December federal indictment with six counts of wire fraud, money laundering, and making false statements in his plot to obtain $150,000 in COVID funds. He resigned from the legislature the following day. He originally pled not guilty. 

 After Harding was charged and resigned, Nadine Smith, the executive director of Equality Florida, responded via social media, saying: “So much harm to students, parents and teachers because of his raw political ambitions. He slandered entire communities and trafficked in lie after lie that has emboldened violent bigotry. He will have his day in court but his legacy is already a despicable one.”

Well that's one less fool we have to worry about in politics.

1 comment:

Max Penn said...

It's no longer a surpise when legislators of his kind get caught with their hand in the till. It's just another day in dirty politics. I'm pleased that sexual minorities and all right thinking people can see him exposed as the shyster he is and hope that the story culminates in real justice.

My only surprise is that, as a crook, he was going after such a small prize. Why take such a high risk for only $150K?