Tallahassee, FL - Following the announcement of new legislation that aims to control rioting, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried accuses Governor Ron DeSantis and the Republican Party of "fear-mongering."
Citing hurricane recovery efforts in the panhandle and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the commissioner took to Twitter Monday evening (September 21st) and released a statement that said both DeSantis and the Florida GOP "should focus on the issues facing our state" instead of "pulling a radical political stunt 44 days ahead of the election."
The "stunt" in question was a proposed bill—officially known as the Combatting Violence, Disorder and Looting and Law Enforcement Protection Act—that can enhance penalties and create new offenses for individuals caught participating in what the act calls a "violent or disorderly assembly."
"Instead of prioritizing issues impacting people's lives, Governor Ron DeSantis and the Republic Party of Florida are fear-mongering at the expense of Floridians, and making a mockery of our legislative process to pull a political stunt for Donald Trump ahead of the 2020 election," wrote the Democratic commissioner.
Fried further commented on the proposed legislation, calling it "unconstitutional" and "authoritarian."
Hours after releasing her statement, Fried also called on DeSantis to activate the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program. That's after a reported $400 million in "seasonal crops and other commodities" were ravaged by Hurricane Sally, which made landfall as a Category 2 storm on September 16th.
Two days after the storm hit, a Presidential Major Disaster declaration was made in 13 counties.
"This request for expeditious financial support is necessary, as Panhandle agricultural producers facing up to 100 percent losses cannot wait for federal relief which can be slow to arrive," said Commissioner Fried in a letter to DeSantis. "With agriculture as our state's largest economic driver, made so by the economic effects of COVID-19, the need to support our farmers and growers at this critical moment is readily apparent."