Commissioner Fried Letter: Admonish Rep. Sabatini for Reckless AR-15 Tweet

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Jun 1, 2020

Tallahassee, Fla. — Today, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, an independently elected member of the Florida Cabinet, wrote to House Speaker Jos é Oliva and Speaker-Designate Chris Sprowls. In the letter, Fried calls for legislative leaders to admonish State Rep. Anthony Sabatini for his social media post encouraging the brandishing of AR-15 assault-style rifles against Floridians protesting the George Floyd murder.

The letter states that Sabatini’s “conduct fails to meet the basic standards of integrity, honor, confidence, and professionalism that the House’s rules require,” and are part of his “well-documented history of inflammatory actions and statements on racial issues.”

The letter reads as follows:

The Honorable Jos é Oliva
Speaker of the House
Florida House of Representatives
420 The Capitol
402 South Monroe Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399-1300
The Honorable Chris Sprowls
Speaker-Designate
Florida House of Representatives
422 The Capitol
402 South Monroe Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399-1300

 

June 1, 2020

Speaker Oliva and Speaker-Designate Sprowls,

I write to you today regarding the recent conduct unbecoming of a member of your body.

You are no doubt aware of the historic tensions under which our state, nation, and people find ourselves, regarding the protests in more than 100 U.S. cities over racial injustice and police brutality. You are also aware of our responsibility as leaders to serve as voices of reason to communities seeking not only healing, but constructive acknowledgment of their hurt, frustration, and anger.

On May 31, Representative Anthony Sabatini, who represents the people of House District 32, posted to social media encouraging those who encounter protestors in the Lake County vicinity to brandish weapons, displaying an image of an AR-15 semi-automatic assault-style rifle.

This action is not only outrageously irresponsible and reckless, but constitutes a violation of Rules 15.1 and 15.2, which govern the ethics and conduct of the Florida House of Representatives.

These rules state that members of your chamber shall serve “with integrity in the public interest” and “by personal example and by admonition to colleagues whose behavior may threaten the honor of the lawmaking body,” shall be “respectful of the confidence placed in the member by the other members and the people,” and shall perform “at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity … of the House” and “at all times in a manner that promotes a professional environment in the House…”.

By encouraging armed violence against protestors, Representative Sabatini’s conduct fails to meet the basic standards of integrity, honor, confidence, and professionalism that the House’s rules require. Further, this perpetuates the Representative’s well-documented history of inflammatory actions and statements on racial issues that undermine the integrity of your chamber.

As Speaker of the House and as Chair of the Rules Committee, I call upon you to admonish Representative Sabatini for his detrimental conduct through whatever means appropriate, including censure and removal of committee assignments, according to House Rules 15.9 and your judgment.

Our state and country are in pain. The people we serve are looking to their leaders for reassurance, compassion, and action in this time. We must hold accountable those who would inflame this situation as both our rules and our common decency require.

Sincerely,

Nicole Fried
Commissioner of Agriculture

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