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Cindy Polo ‘disappointed’ after House Speaker declines to sanction Anthony Sabatini

Sabatini warned protesters who illegally entered Lake County businesses would be met with an AR-15.

Rep. Cindy Polo says she is “disappointed” after House Speaker José Oliva rejected her call to sanction GOP Rep. Anthony Sabatini.

Polo filed a letter of complaint with the House after Sabatini warned trespassing protesters in Lake County would be met with an AR-15. Tuesday, Oliva said Sabatini would not be sanctioned for the tweet, which Polo argued could incite violence.

“The rules governing the actions of members of the House are in place to maintain order and decorum consistent with the traditions of the House. The rules do not and should not grant presiding officers the power to determine the wisdom of member’s speech,” Oliva said.

“This is especially important to prevent the abuse of power that could result when the majority is offended by the views of the minority.”

Polo referenced the statement in remarks criticizing the Speaker’s decision.

“I agree with the Speaker when he says that it ‘is especially important to prevent the abuse of power that could result when the majority is offended by the views of the minority,’ Polo said.

“However, I witness power being abused all the time. It is disheartening that power is only used when convenient and not to stand up to injustices.”

Sabatini’s tweet in question was posted late Saturday night.

“Attention potential ‘protesters’ coming near Lake County, FL,” he wrote. “This is an AR-15 — this will be a very common sight upon illegal entry at any Lake County business — FYI!”

Protests have arisen in large cities throughout the country after the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers.

Sabatini’s “AR-15” tweet wasn’t his only comment that earned blowback.

As some Minneapolis protesters became violent, last Friday, Sabatini tweeted, “Lock up every one of these disgusting, lawless thugs destroying the city of Minneapolis. They should each be arrested and prosecuted to the FULL extent of the law. Shame on the politicians that pander to this destruction!”

Polo was also critical of those remarks. She added additional criticism Tuesday after Oliva announced his decision.

“I am disappointed, but not surprised,” Polo continued.

“We have yet to hear a single word on the murder of George Floyd and so many others. And yet, there was swift action to defend a colleague who has peddled conspiracy theories, incited violence and let’s not forget, is a member of the National Guard that may be called to ‘restore peace’ amongst the very protesters he threatened. What our State needs right now is courage and leadership. When we turn a blind eye or choose to be silent, we are complicit.”

Written By

Ryan Nicol covers news out of South Florida for Florida Politics. Ryan is a native Floridian who attended undergrad at Nova Southeastern University before moving on to law school at Florida State. After graduating with a law degree he moved into the news industry, working in TV News as a writer and producer, along with some freelance writing work. If you'd like to contact him, send an email to ryan.t.nicol@gmail.com.

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