For Ag. Comm. hopeful Roy David Walker, questions abound on bio, finances

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Three South Florida Democrats are competing in the race for Agriculture Commissioner, an office dominated for decades by Republicans with ties to the state’s farming industry.

And while attorney Nikki Fried is the clear favorite in the Aug. 28 primary; another Democratic candidate is deserving a closer look — but not in a good way.

Roy David Walker is a 33-year-old former environmental scientist for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. A resident Broward County, Walker’s main claim to fame is that he resigned after Republican Gov. Rick Scott banned the use of the words “climate change” in official state communications.

As the cornerstone of his campaign, Walker leans heavily on his background as a “biologist,” which he would use to grow the state’s agricultural industry and “#BringingScienceBack” to Tallahassee.

Through his website boasts several scientific and environmental bona fides, the reality behind Walker’s background — and his campaign — is far from impressive.

The idea that Walker will come to the Florida Cabinet as a trained biologist does not paint a complete picture. While he holds two degrees in environmental policy/management, Walker’s education was, in fact, through the American Public University, a West Virginia-based online-only, for-profit college.

To illustrate the type of education offered by APU — one of the least expensive among online schools — the facility entered a $50 million agreement in 2010 with retail giant Walmart to provide services for its employees, earning a reputation in the industry as “Walmart U.”

And though Walker claims to have held “research positions” at various state and federal conservation agencies, he was not employed by any of them. For example, his role at the state Fish and Wildlife Commission was checking-in duck hunters at a stormwater treatment plant.

Walker also maintains he was a Plant City volunteer firefighter — something the city says is not true.

According to the Palm Beach Post “Know Your Candidates” series, Walker’s most recent job (from 2015-2017) was as an assistant instructor with Florida Master Naturalist Program.

However, his most notable employment — and conspicuously left off his campaign bio — was as “Lead Animal Care Specialist” at Wild Things in Dade City, a notorious roadside zoo with a lengthy history of abuse.

A longtime target of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Wild Things was fined and sued over its handling of animals, particularly tiger cubs — three of which died while being shipped 1,200 miles to avoid an animal-welfare inspection.

As the Tampa Bay Times reported in March 2018, after a “calculated and deliberately deceptive” plot to move tigers from the zoo, a federal judge ruled Wild Things could never possess tigers again.

Despite an apparent affinity for working with tigers — he once listed his email as [email protected] — Walker was fired from Wild Things for failing to show up to work.

“They stated that I was a no-call and no-show,” Walker explained.

But it is Walker’s campaign finances in his bid for Agriculture Commissioner that raise the most concern.

Several news outlets, including the Tampa Bay Times, noted many inconsistencies in Walker’s personal finances. In a disclosure document filed with the Florida Division of Elections on June 20, he claims a net worth of more than $138,000 and over $73K in student loans.

Though campaign reports show him as “self-employed,” Walker managed to loan his campaign nearly $160,000. In addition, he filed every campaign finance report late, and was fined thousands of dollars.

This ability to loan (and pay fees) simply does not jive with Walker’s financial past.

In 2010, Walker’s Jeep Wrangler was repossessed after he defaulted on a deal to pay off debt associated with unpaid dues at a Gainesville health club. Nevertheless, he has lately been spotted driving around in luxury cars — previously a BMW, and is now on the campaign trail behind the wheel of a new Tesla.

Some have speculated Walker’s funding source is his partner, an emergency medicine specialist at Broward Health, with whom he shares a $743,000 waterfront home in Wilton Manors — a fact visibly absent in both his campaign bio and financial reporting.

Staff Reports


  • George

    August 18, 2018 at 3:38 pm

    This is sloppy and presumptuous. First of all, is there any evidence to show that Nikki Fried is a clear frontrunner? As well, as for Mr. Walker’s finances, his financial disclosure was as of 5/31/18. On 5/31/18, he appeared to have around $100k in liquid assets. All his loans were made on or before 5/31/18, so it’s very possible he had $260k or so in liquid assets then. As for how he got those assets, there are various plausible explanations but frankly, it is not any of my concern. And there’s nothing illegal about living in someone else’s home, driving their vehicles, or anything along those lines.

    • Valerie Sprieser

      August 19, 2018 at 12:17 pm

      Absolutely Avis routinely rents luxury vehicles. This is a pathetic attempt to undermine the credibility of a young man that has a science background and is not a professional politician!

  • Oh Really

    August 18, 2018 at 6:18 pm

    Really, the one thing you hang on to the fact that Nikki far ahead gets a grip, this article needs to be done to show what amateurs the hangers-on are on his Campaign staff

  • AgroMom

    August 18, 2018 at 6:28 pm

    Nikki Fried is a clear front runner as she should be! She truly has Florida’s best interest at heart.

  • Kim

    August 18, 2018 at 6:39 pm

    So let me get this straight, Walker had many complaints with the Florida Elections Commission and he has filed false finance reports, this may be the end of this dying campaign with this new information coming out don’t see hem getting any major endorsements after this news

  • David W

    August 18, 2018 at 6:57 pm

    Shameful reporting. Nothing to link Walker’s time at Wild Things with the abuse complaints. When did he work there? Seems he wasn’t thrilled with that job and just quit going. And why the dog whistle? It certainly taints Florida Politics credibility. Do you have a problem with Walker living in a home with another man? In Wilton Manors? I had no idea and don’t care. Why isn’t Fried married?

  • Carl Buehler

    August 18, 2018 at 9:03 pm

    I do not believe the reporting was to shame the candidate. There is an implication of that in the prior posts regarding his relationship to his living partner in Wilton Manors, so you could come out and admit that the accusation being made is that this man is gay, and the article is therefor slanted against him. I am a supporter of Gay Marriage, in fact you want a bumper sticker that says I heart Gay Marriage, I got a few left for free. If he were black would that also be grounds for blowing the dog whistle? No, there are realistic concerns in the article. Both in terms of full financial transparency, work history, and education. I certainly do want to know where a candidate’s money is coming from, and whether their work history is honestly described. Full accountability is reflected by the history one accumulates in life and a willingness to be honest about it, no hiding any facts. If it’s there in public records and a candidate wishes to challenge Florida Politics reporting on any of those facts or their interpretation, let’s hear it right from him.

    • Just The Facts

      August 19, 2018 at 12:49 pm

      I do not give one Wit if he is gay, and would think no one else would either, that was not the issue at all, it is not reporting on his finance reports who the money came from it is not just unethical it may be illegal, do we see just one other ethnic complaint, coming this amateur campaigns way

  • Nadine voelz

    August 18, 2018 at 10:00 pm

    Why can I not find information on Ms. Fried? Why did Mr. Walker not provide information about himself or his platform when requested?

    • The Truth Is Out There

      August 19, 2018 at 12:28 pm

      What about his numerous Florida Elections Commision complaints

    • Here It is

      August 19, 2018 at 4:23 pm

      As a lobbyist during the 2018 Legislative Session, she represented the Florida’s Children First social service advocacy agency; the Broward County School Board; and San Felasco Nurseries, which was one of the first medical-marijuana license holders in the state.

  • Alan Marx

    August 19, 2018 at 3:57 am

    Is he a scientist?

    • Valerie Sprieser

      August 19, 2018 at 12:19 pm

      Absolutely Avis routinely rents luxury vehicles. This is a pathetic attempt to undermine the credibility of a young man that has a science background and is not a professional politician!

    • Renee Fye

      August 19, 2018 at 1:26 pm

      Yes he is.

  • JW

    August 19, 2018 at 8:50 am

    I already voted for him, knowing he had been affiliated with Audubon. Now that I know he quit his job to protest Rick the Climate Denier, I cant think of a better recommendation.

  • Gary Glitter

    August 19, 2018 at 5:39 pm

    Whatever this gentleman has or hasn’t done. He hasn’t taken or would be willing to take donation from big sugar. Anyone who wants to be head of Agriculture in FL who has done so is automatically excluded from my vote. Or anybody who is unhappy with the cesspit they have turned the state into

  • Russell Jenkins

    August 19, 2018 at 10:11 pm

    The republicans had Melisa Howard and her fake college degree and the democrats have the fake scientist with degrees from Walmart U. Nice work Peter, this fake needed to be exposed. I hope that CNN picks this story up, the same way they did when you broke the Melisa Howard degree story. No this guy is not a scientist, but I’m sure he’s stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night!

  • Frank H. Roder

    August 19, 2018 at 11:33 pm

    I’ve known David Walker since he was in high school. Despite many obstacles he never took NO for an answer, he’s a fighter and determined to make a difference. He isn’t a politician and this is his first campaign, mistakes happen. He deserves a chance to make things better for all of us in Florida.

    • Bill Brush

      August 20, 2018 at 4:53 pm

      Frank, you know a liar! Sorry but this guy is not a scientist, he has no scientific background. Also everyone knows that he’s been ripping off people left and right on the campaign trail. Just ask his first campaign manager…… He knows the truth!

    • Kay Haering

      August 22, 2018 at 6:42 pm

      I am with you. If we don’t get Lake Okeechobee cleaned of toxins. We will see a total Collapse of Florida’s Economy and Marine Life. We need a Scientific mind to understand and correct the Toxic Water discharges into our rivers.

  • Joe

    August 20, 2018 at 4:48 pm

    He’s not a volunteer firefighter. Plant City doesn’t have volunteer firefights, I know, because I’m a paid Hillsborough County Firefighter that works in Plant City . Anyone can access this information as well! Please anyone reading this call Holly Collins 813-757-9131 the Administrative Assistant to David Burnett the Fire Chief. David Walker has never stepped foot in a fire station in Plant City! He is not a “Plant City Volunteer Firefighter”.

Comments are closed.


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