Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam has endured a couple of bad news cycles as he vies for the Republican nomination for Governor.
First, there was the issue with concealed weapons permits. Putnam’s office didn’t complete checks on 365 permits between Feb. 2016 and Mar. 2017.
Then, just as that item faded from the public consciousness, another issue: a roller coaster in Daytona Beach that derailed Thursday, injuring nine people just hours after getting the green light from Putnam’s office.
Now, the criticism is pouring in.
Putnam’s primary opponent, Rep. Ron DeSantis, told WJXT of the permit botch: “The Ag Department doesn’t do very much — concealed weapons permits, supposed to look out of for the citrus industry. It seems he’s had problems with both of those regards.”
Also piling on were Florida Democrats, adding the roller coaster issue to their critique.
In Jacksonville Saturday to open his campaign headquarters, Putnam addressed both these issues and the critics.
“It’s no surprise that people would try to politicize the tragedy,” Putnam said. “It’s unfortunate, but in this environment, it doesn’t surprise me.”
“We are actively investigating the tragic incident in Daytona. Our hearts and prayers go out to the injured. And we will hold anyone accountable who needs to be held accountable at the conclusion of the investigation,” Putnam added.
Given that the ride was inspected and approved hours before the derailment, some have questions as to the inspection process itself.
Those questions, in theory, will be resolved by the investigation to which Putnam refers.
And some will see parallels between the detachment of the commissioner from the inspection process to him being unaware of (and not disclosing) gaps in the concealed weapons permit process.