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FDP’s Allison Tant says GOP state Rep. Janet Adkins should apologize

Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Allison Tant is calling on state Rep. Janet Adkins to apologize after a disclosure of her remarks about including as many prisons as possible in U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown‘s new district to help “get rid of” her.

Adkins, a Fernandina Beach Republican, made the comments during a closed Republican Party of Florida meeting in August, POLITICO Florida reported Wednesday.

The Florida courts will soon decide on the state’s new congressional districts after the state Supreme Court found them unconstitutionally gerrymandered to benefit the Republican Party.

POLITICO Florida reported Adkins as saying, “You draw (Brown’s seat) in such a fashion so perhaps, a majority, or maybe not a majority, but a number of them will live in the prisons, thereby not being able to vote” seemingly referring to African-American residents.

Her comments came after making sure no reporters were in the room.

“Let me give you inside ball game. Are there any reporters in here?” she said. “Any reporters? OK. So, inside ball game.”

“To say that these appalling comments from Rep. Janet Adkins have no place in our political process would be an understatement,” Tant said in a prepared statement.

“No, Rep. Adkins, the majority of North Florida African-Americans do not ‘live in the prisons.’ And no, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 is not a ‘monster of our political correctness,’ as you implied,” Tant said.

She also called on the Republican Party of Florida to “condemn” Adkin’s comments, but Tant did not ask for her resignation from the state House of Representatives.

“House Republican leadership, who has sought to emphasize their supposedly clean hands during the redistricting process, cannot stand silently by while their members offer such disgusting comments,” Tant said.

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“Rep. Adkins’ endorsement of discriminating against African-Americans is a perfect example of everything that’s wrong with Florida’s current redistricting process and the GOP’s culture of disenfranchisement.”

In a statement released later on Wednesday, House Speaker Steve Crisafulli said Adkins’ remarks were “inappropriate.”

“(H)owever, she was describing a district originally drawn by the Democratic plaintiffs,” said Crisafulli, a Merritt Island Republican. “The House and Senate consistently opposed that configuration and argued that it would diminish the ability of minorities to elect candidates of their choice.

“The Florida Supreme Court sided with the Democratic plaintiffs, and our map drawers used the exact version of Congressional District 5 the Florida Supreme Court held up as an exemplar in its July 9th opinion,” he added.

In May, state Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Fort Walton Beach Republican, got into hot water when he tweeted April 30 about a court filing by Senate Democrats aimed at forcing the House to come back into Session.

The House had adjourned three days early during the Regular Legislative Session amid a breakdown in budget negotiations with the Senate.

Gaetz wrote that the hastily drafted filing, which had several spelling and grammatical errors, read as if it were “researched and drafted by Sen. Joyner and spell-checked by Sen. Bullard.”

Both Arthenia Joyner, the Senate Democratic Leader from Tampa, and Dwight Bullard, a Miami Democrat, are black.

Many read the tweet as suggesting the two had “questionable intelligence and limited literacy skills.”

House Speaker Steve Crisafulli later tweeted that Gaetz is “an agitator, yes, but not a racist. Please accept my apology to those offended.”

Written By

Jim Rosica is the Tallahassee-based Senior Editor for Florida Politics. He previously was the Tampa Tribune’s statehouse reporter. Before that, he covered three legislative sessions in Florida for The Associated Press. Jim graduated from law school in 2009 after spending nearly a decade covering courts for the Tallahassee Democrat, including reporting on the 2000 presidential recount. He can be reached at jim@floridapolitics.com.

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