At least a dozen current Democratic members of the Florida House are backing a challenge to their colleague, Rep. Al Jacquet, after Jacquet was accused of directing an anti-gay slur at a Democratic primary opponent.
This is the second time Jacquet is facing such allegations.
Lake Worth Beach Commissioner Omari Hardy made the newest accusation Thursday. He’s one of four Democrats competing in a primary against Jacquet for the House District 88 seat.
“A Haitian-American supporter called me this morning and informed me that he heard my ad on Haitian radio yesterday, and that Representative Jacquet called the radio station after my ad was played and told listeners to disregard my radio spot because it was a ‘gay’ spot,” Hardy said in a post on Twitter.
Hardy says Jacquet made the comments in a call to Sak Pase FM, which broadcasts a show hosted by Jacquet. Florida Politics has reached out to Jacquet for a response to those allegations, but he has not replied.
Earlier this year, Jacquet lost his position as Ranking Member on the House Rules Committee after directing a different anti-gay slur at Hardy.
“While I am not gay, I was raised in a same-sex household by my two mothers, and I am offended for them and for the broader LGBTQ community here in Palm Beach County, where I serve,” Hardy said at the time.
Jacquet’s original comments earned condemnation from several Democratic members of the House, including Reps. Nick Duran and Carlos Guillermo Smith. After Hardy’s most recent accusation, Duran, Smith and others announced they were endorsing Hardy’s candidacy.
“He’s an excellent public servant who shows up to work, cares about his constituents, supports public schools [and] doesn’t traffic in homophobia,” Smith said of Hardy, adding an indirect dig at Jacquet. “Donations on the way!”
Added Rep. Javier Fernández, who is currently running for the Senate, “Commissioner, he just earned you my endorsement and a personal contribution. Such behavior should have no place in our politics, much less in the Democratic Party. Hope to see you restore some dignity to a seat in the Florida House that desperately needs it.”
That prompted Duran and several other lawmakers to reply. “[Y]ou’ve got my endorsement and support too,” Duran said to Hardy. “I’ll see you in Tallahassee.”
Hardy also directly called out the Florida Democratic Party (FDP), asking for a condemnation of Jacquet’s remarks.
“Will [the FDP] stand up and reprimand Rep. Jacquet for his continued use of anti-gay hate speech? What he does reflects on our party, and that he has used hateful, anti-gay language without so much as a statement from FDP suggests that FDP condones his behavior.”
Hardy then referenced former Republican Sen. Frank Artiles, who resigned from the Senate in 2017 after using a racial slur and other derogatory language at the Governor’s Club.
“When Republican Senator Frank Artiles used a racial slur, [the FDP] demanded his resignation,” Hardy continued.
“But when Rep. Jacquet called me an anti-gay slur in the middle of the legislative session on Facebook Live AND on his radio show, the Party didn’t even put out a statement. Rep. Jacquet appears to have learned a very specific lesson from [the FDP’s] silence, namely that FDP tolerates slurs from Dems but not from Republicans. The party should have called for his resignation the FIRST time he revealed himself to be a bigot. Now look at where we are.”
FDP Chair Terrie Rizzo did respond to the controversy Friday, though stopped short of calling on Rep. Jacquet to resign.
“[We] condemn all hateful, homophobic language, including Rep. Al Jacquet’s reported comments yesterday,” Rizzo said. “This type of behavior is unacceptable and is not reflective of our values.”
A round-up of lawmakers backing Hardy in light of the latest controversy is below. Rep. Anna Eskamani also endorsed Hardy’s bid in late June.
Commissioner, he just earned you my endorsement and a personal contribution. Such behavior should have no place in our politics, much less in the Democratic Party. Hope to see you restore some dignity to a seat in the Florida House that desperately needs it. https://t.co/BdAPJMAYsa
— Javier E. Fernández (@ElectJavier) July 10, 2020
— Cindy Polo (@CindyPoloFL103) July 10, 2020
I'm joining @AnnaForFlorida, @ElectJavier & @CindyPoloFL103 to ENDORSE Commissioner @OmariJHardy! He's an excellent public servant who shows up to work, cares about his constituents, supports public schools & doesn't traffic in homophobia. Donations on the way! ✊🏿✊🏾✊🏽✊🏼✊🏻 https://t.co/xqQkmxTp3L
— Rep. Carlos G Smith (@CarlosGSmith) July 10, 2020
Omari… you’ve got my endorsement and support too. I’ll see you in Tallahassee. https://t.co/5KHv850ZKN
— Nicholas X. Duran (@DuranForFlorida) July 10, 2020
— Emily Ann Slosberg (@SlosbergAnn) July 10, 2020
I'm proud to throw my full support behind @OmariJHardy for State Representative! I echo my colleagues @CarlosGSmith @AnnaForFlorida @CindyPoloFL103 @ElectJavier in recognizing his strong character and commitment to public service. He is Legislator we need in the Florida House! https://t.co/FkJEFgOMHs
— Rep. Jennifer Webb (@jenniferwebbfl) July 10, 2020
— Matt Willhite (@repmattwillhite) July 10, 2020
— Jason Pizzo (@senpizzo) July 10, 2020
— Michael Grieco (@Mike_Grieco) July 10, 2020
Count me in, too! Hard to believe that kind of open homophobia is still being employed in elections.
— Senator Gary Farmer (@FarmerForFLSen) July 10, 2020