The Company We Keep
Last April, when planning a sold-out event in Navarre, the owner of the venue hosting us informed us of disturbing news:
One of Matt Gaetz' goons showed up to his business and threatened him. He said the owner was going to cancel my event "or else." He added that the message came straight from Gaetz.
He did this on video, in front of witnesses.
When I called this man out, he sent me a threatening email. I told him if he contacted me again, we'd press charges. For extra measure, I let him know we had him on video and if he thought that kind of tactic worked, he was in for a wild ride with me because I've had a gun to my head and never flinched.
So a few days later, this goon showed up to protest our event outside - across the street after being informed he'd be shot on site if he entered the building ever again - with someone dressed in a head-to-two bunny costume. They threatened to shut down traffic with "hundreds" of protestors. They had two people and a bunny.
At another event during the summer, the goon followed several young women volunteering with my campaign, harassing them as they walked to their cars late at night. We started making sure every member of our team was armed at all times after that.
Last month, while joining a Health Expo in Fort Walton Beach, this same man stalked my son, waited until I left the booth to go to the restroom, took photos of my son when he was alone, shared those photos with known sex traffickers, and published them to social media, making fun of my 12-year-old son's autism and "low energy."
Matt Gaetz reshared that photo, adding in an extra little lie by falsely claiming the photos of my child sitting alone were taken at one of my campaign events. Despite thousands of outraged parents and disability rights advocates demanding he take the photo down and the owner of the event personally calling him out, Gaetz (and his goon) refused.
Instead of spending time reflecting on the anniversary of 9/11, this is what Gaetz spent his time doing on that day.
Last night, this man showed up to register voters with the Okaloosa Republican Party at the Okaloosa fair-- a felony for immigrants currently in the country illegally - and heckled us, telling our volunteers there were resources available for people with their kinds of mental health issues. A few of our volunteers are teenage girls, and he made sexist remarks about their appearance thinking no one aside from them could hear him.
Then tonight, I said enough. I posted a sign warning parents and young girls that this individual has a long and well-documented history of stalking, harassing, photographing, bullying and sharing photos of children with known sex traffickers. I didn't mention Matt Gaetz because who he worked for was less important than what he was doing. Also, this goon likes to connect himself to more than politician with a history of trafficking:
I told the owner of the event if the man was not ejected, we would make sure everyone knew that the fair was not a safe place for children, young women, or families, and that I would have no part in promoting an event that protected known predators engaging in felonies under their roof.
I even insisted he bring in the police, who got rather chummy with the predator and his enablers at the event.
I said I wanted to file a complaint, showed them the photos, the threats, the lengthy history - they claimed since the first time the goon stalked my son (who was at the fair tonight) happened outside the city, I had to report it with the sheriff, even though he was continuing the pattern that night.
I told him I didn't want to stand near or speak with this predator, but he completely ignored me, brazenly treating the both of us like children who couldn't get along.
"Come over here, stand next to the man you've already told multiple agents you want to press charges against, and we're going to talk about how you're going to get along with him even though he harasses the young women on your team, threatens your associates, directly threatened you more than once, and publishes photos of your kids that he takes while stalking them at events."
I was seeing first-hand just how incompetent, uncaring and corrupt the entire area is toward victims, toward predators, and especially how tolerant they become of preying on children when Gaetz and his Goons are involved. The people who supposedly blame immigrants on all their woes weren't interested if he was in the country legally or not. Apparently, if you're Matt Gaetz or anyone employed by him, there's no law you aren't allowed to get away with breaking.
It was sickening.
So I called a few friends- Republican mayors in the area who are on our side, and they were able to get more done to stop this individual than either fair officials or the police wanted or willing to do. We let the public know the fair is allowing child predators to work under its roof.
The corrupt political apparatus of Northwest Florida should sicken those of us committed to protecting children and our family values. While we have a sex offender registry, a simple notice on 8 x 11 " paper warning of this man's behavior was going too far. The preying, stalking, harassing, photographing, disability-mocking did not bother them.
This is the same area where legal migrants were smuggled into from Texas under false pretenses and without the knowledge or consent of Texas officials, and then flown to Martha's Vineyard. Not one person at the airport thought it strange to see a large group of people being held against their will being trafficked from one place to another. That saga has turned into a criminal investigation against Ron DeSantis and Don Gaetz, Matt Gaetz' notoriously corrupt father who owns a large part of that same airport.
This is the same county where members of the school district were arrested for trafficking students, and where a woman who recruited trafficking victims for the Republican party was arrested last year.
Of course I filmed ALL of this, repeated what they were telling me to ensure clarity, and asked them how far, exactly, this man was allowed to go - they would not even throw him out for following my son or my female volunteers into the bathrooms, apparently.
This is not who we are. This is not who we want to be. We deserve better because we are better.
If Northwest Florida isn't safe for families, then we need to flush out every man like Gaetz and Larry Hetu - the goon (shown below) - until it is.
We need to elect good, moral people. People who have children, not live-in teenage victims they later lie and claim they adopted. People who send sex traffickers to prison, not those who enable and protect them.
We need to break the wheel and rid our community of the filth Matt Gaetz has unleashed on our children.
We do that by voting him out.