National Rifle Association lobbyist Marion Hammer this week sent out a blistering critique of Democratic Agriculture-Commissioner candidate Nikki Fried, who opened October by saying she would curtail Hammer’s access to the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
Hammer’s Monday statement to members of the NRA and the Unified Sportsmen of Florida labeled Fried an “anti-gun extremist who will eliminate our freedoms.” The lobbyist also reaffirmed the NRA’s endorsement of Republican Matt Caldwell to replace term-limited Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.
In addition, Hammer pointed out that Everytown for Gun Safety, a gun-control group co-founded by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, supports Fried. Last week, the group announced it was putting $1.8 million behind Fried, in addition to $2 million going to support Fried and two other Democrats running for state Cabinet posts — Sean Shaw, who is running for attorney general, and Jeremy Ring, who is running for state Chief Financial Officer.
Fried said in an Oct. 1 letter that her “administration will not be run by unelected special interests,” after reports of email exchanges between Hammer and Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services officials. But Hammer said in this week’s statement that she never got the letter from Fried.
“She gleefully told the news media she had ‘sent a letter to [Marion] Hammer’ in which she told me, ‘I won’t be beholden to you,’ ” Hammer wrote. “The truth is Nikki Fried never sent such a letter to me — this was nothing more than a political stunt.”
Fried, an attorney and lobbyist for the medical-marijuana industry from Fort Lauderdale, responded to Hammer’s missive as “yet another fraudulent scare tactic” that shows the gun-rights group is “worried because their grip on our state government is threatened.”
“I’m a gun owner, I support the Second Amendment and the right to self-defense,” Fried said in a statement this week. “I’m not running to take away anyone’s rights. These pathetic lies show just how desperate and worried the gun lobby has become.”
The department, in part, oversees the issuance of concealed-weapons licenses.