A Donna Barcomb Sarasota County Charter Review Board vote may haunt her in a House campaign.
Barcomb voted in favor of advancing a “Sovereign Citizen” charter amendment in 2015. That came despite concerns from the Anti-Defamation League and others that the movement behind the measure was responsible for killing police officers and federal agents.
Barcomb’s chief opponent in the House District 72 Republican primary, Fiona McFarland slams the vote in her new ad.
“The fact that Donna voted to support an anarchist group that the FBI classified as domestic terrorists should be alarming to any Sarasota voter who cares about the well-being of our brave men and women in blue,” said Maryann Grgic, a McFarland spokesperson.
The 60-second spot starts with footage of recent looting and riots that erupted during anti-police protests.
A narrator then says to “rewind back” to 2015 to discuss the charter vote.
“Career politician Donna Barcomb is chairing a hearing on whether to amend the county charter to include representation from Sovereign Citizens, a known domestic terrorist organization,” the narrator continues. “The anarchist group notorious for killing cops, for beating cops, for kidnapping cops.”
“Barcomb votes yes for the motion.”
The ad references a quote from a Sarasota Herald-Tribune article from the time where she defended the vote, saying the proposal “sounded like a good idea.”
Images of headlines backdrop the ad, including one for a story in The Daily Beast that identified the organization as “America’s Top Cop Killers.” The piece was published in 2014, about a year before of Barcomb’s vote.
“Donna Barcomb is still running for office, this time for state House,” the ad says. “She hopes the public won’t remember her votes endangering law enforcement. We do remember.”
The charter amendment in question was about creating “people’s common law juries,” citizen groups empowered to bring charges, including against officials, without going through the State Attorney’s Office.
The vote at the time caused uproar among County Commissioners, who felt the Charter Review Board was stepping outside its responsibilities and into legislating.
The Sovereign Citizen movement is generally considered right-wing, as opposed to left-wing groups like Black Lives Matter or antifa that are tied to recent demonstrations. Vice in 2015 reported a man who fired into a Black Lives Matter rally may have been tied to the Sovereign Citizen movement.
Barcomb’s vote in support of a proposal from one anti-police group comes up days after she accused McFarland of being anti-police herself. Barcomb last week sent an email blast and text messages tying her opponent to calls for defunding police after McFarland said “Black lives matter” at a Tiger Bay forum.
McFarland and Barcomb face each other in a Republican primary on Aug. 18. Attorney Jason Miller is also running for the nomination. The primary winner will face Democrat Drake Buckman in November.