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REPREHENSIBLE: Texts show Florida Republican threatening to block funding for Special Olympics over personal feud

REPREHENSIBLE: Texts show Florida Republican threatening to block funding for Special Olympics over personal feud

REPREHENSIBLE: Texts show Florida Republican threatening to block funding for Special Olympics over personal feud

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Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis gets a lot of headlines for being a petty, aggrieved, authoritarian bully who retaliates at anybody who defies or criticizes him. Unfortunately for decent-minded Floridians, he has inspired a whole cast of like-minded minion trolls that emulate his style and seek to be little fascist clones.

One of the most ghoulish figures in this ensemble is State Representative Randy Fine. No stranger to controversy, Fine is a truly pathetic figure, someone willing to say and do anything for attention, including cheering on murdered Palestinean babies, encouraging protestors to be run over, and pushing for schools to be defunded over mask requirements during COVID surges.

His own Republican colleagues find him gross and unlikeable. When he ran for speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, Fine called fellows Republicans Paul Renner dumb and Jamie Grant a pawn, and, while not necessarily wrong, that sort of approach doesn’t win you a lot of friends, so he predictably lost. Now, he’s a backbencher who realizes his only path to attention is bullying Black and LGBTQ folks. 

His fascist mentality can be summed up in his response to a Democratic colleague’s answer regarding why Republicans were spending education dollars a certain way: “because we can”. 

Fine is now making headlines again, for a new low even for him. He is threatening to cut state funding for the Special Olympics after Brevard County School Board Jennifer Jenkins, who Fine personally dislikes, was invited to participate in a Special Olympics fundraising event by the West Melbourne Police Department — an event that he wasn’t invited to.

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Text messages reported by Space Coast Rocket and Florida Today reveal how Fine threatened to intervene by telling a West Melbourne Councilman that funding requests for the Special Olympics would be chopped by Governor Ron DeSantis from the state budget. According to a West Melbourne city leader, Fine even tried to block the release of the text messages through a public records request and wanted a city attorney who was overseeing the request to be fired.

The texts even show Fine referring to Jenkins who he has been harassing and stalking as a “whore”.

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“I’m not going to jack shit where that whore is at,” he wrote. “You guys will have to raise a lot of money given that’s who you want to honor, not the person who got you money in the budget.”

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The feud between Fine and Jenkins was precipitated because of Jenkin’s support of mask requirements for Brevard Public Schools during last year’s Delta COVID surge. In unhinged Facebook posts, Fine called Jenkins “mentally ill” and a “child abuser” for her support of the mask requirements, despite him failing to acknowledge he himself wore a mask alongside his children while outdoors in Disney World.

Fine is also Ron DeSantis’ errand boy in his performative Republican war against Disney, sponsoring a bill to end special privileges for the company despite having worked with lobbyists for the company in the past to give the company whatever they wanted.

I’ve often asked myself how a sociopathic bully like Fine, who seems to be concerned mostly with trolling political opponents, can be allowed to operate in the Florida Legislature. The answer is that after twenty years of unchecked political power for Florida Republicans at the state level, they have spawned unaccountable authoritarians like Randy Fine. His behavior is a feature, not a bug for the Florida GOP. 

Thomas Kennedy is an elected Democratic National Committee member representing Florida. He tweets from @tomaskenn.

RELATED STORY: GERRYMANDER: Ron DeSantis plows ahead with Congressional maps erasing half of all black districts in Florida

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Thomas Kennedy
is a former reported opinion columnist and roving correspondent. He's an elected member of the Democratic National Committee from Florida and a fomer Director of Sunshine Agenda Inc. a government transparency nonprofit organization.

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