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Despite damning charges, state police union backed Jack Latvala to the end

Update:

Jack Latvala resigned from the Senate Wednesday afternoon. In a resignation letter to Senate President Joe Negron, Latvala wrote: “I have never intentionally dishonored my family, my constituents or the Florida Senate.

“My political adversaries have latched onto this effort to rid our country of sexual harassment to try to rid the Florida Senate of me.”

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Florida’s Fraternal Order of Police is the highest profile organization to endorse embattled state Sen. Jack Latvala in his gubernatorial bid.

Conferred in October after the State Lodge Board meeting in Jacksonville, the FOP endorsement wasn’t necessarily surprising; back in August, when Latvala announced his candidacy in Hialeah, Florida FOP President Robert Jenkins was in attendance.

Latvala, a supporter of defined-benefit pensions for law enforcement, often has aligned with FOP priorities throughout his career.

However, in light of the revelations from the blistering special master’s report on Latvala, one that lays out multiple allegations of sexual harassment of women in the workplace, including an accusation of attempting to exchange legislative support for sexual favors that could merit law enforcement investigation, the FOP is at a crossroads.

Can the police union credibly support a candidate who very likely could be expelled from the Senate, and investigated by law enforcement for his actions?

While that question may be resolved as soon as today, it hasn’t yet been settled, per State FOP Legislative Director Lisa Henning.

A conference call with FOP leadership is pending. As FOP is a membership-driven organization, Henning couldn’t make a statement Wednesday morning.

Even as Latvala resigned from the Senate, the FOP was still silent.

Written By

A.G. Gancarski has been a working journalist for over two decades, with bylines in national and local publications alike on subjects ranging from pop music to national and global politics. Gancarski has been a correspondent for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014, and has held a column in Jacksonville, Florida's Folio Weekly for two decades. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." Gancarski is a frequent presence on Jacksonville television and radio, including fill-in slots on WJCT-FM's award-winning talk show "First Coast Connect." He can be reached at a.g.gancarski@gmail.com.

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