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Rep. Anthony Sabatini laments ‘mask Nazis.’ Photo via A.G. Gancarski

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Anthony Sabatini faces ethics complaint in connection to mask lawsuits

Sabatini is using his official House email to field press inquiries about private lawsuits.

Rep. Anthony Sabatini is facing an ethics complaint in connection to a Broward County lawsuit he filed challenging the county’s mask mandate, one of several he’s filed statewide.

The complaint alleges Sabatini is inappropriately using his official House email to respond to press inquiries regarding the lawsuit, filed in his capacity as a private attorney, not an elected official.

The complainant? Me. I just returned from FedEx, where I overnighted the complaint to the Commission on Ethics.

As an attorney, I’d have thought Sabatini, who I’m not usually inclined to give the benefit of the doubt, would have known better. Apparently not.

Sabatini is traveling the state challenging just about every mask mandate he comes across, joining forces with like-minded mask-haters to channel legalese into their ‘don’t tread on me’ variety of rage. As a private citizen, Sabatini is perfectly within his rights to do so. Any idiot can file a lawsuit in Florida. What he’s not allowed to do is use his official House communication to boost his message. And that’s exactly what he’s doing.

Here’s the document at the heart of the complaint.

Sabatini joined forces with Broward resident and business owner Mike Carnevale to challenge the county’s executive order requiring individuals to wear masks in public places.

Carnevale owns Fitness 1440 and was forced to close his business 24-hours after filing the lawsuit because he was violating the county order. Upon refusal, Carnevale was arrested and his wife, facing arrest herself, agreed to close the gym.

In a press release on Fitness 1440 letterhead responding to the arrest, Carnevale directs press inquiries to Sabatini at his official House email address.

The complainant argues using the official email, rather than a private email address Sabatini also uses, violates Florida State Statute regarding misuse of public position.

“No  public  officer,  employee  of  an agency, or local government attorney shall corruptly use or attempt to use his or her official position or any property or resource which may be within his  or  her  trust,  or  perform  his  or  her  official  duties,  to  secure  a  special privilege, benefit, or exemption for himself, herself, or others,” the statute reads.

The complaint also alleges Sabatini violated House Rules, which dictate a similar requirement.

Sabatini is getting what he deserves with this complaint and any disciplinary action that may come with it.

Unfortunately, ethics complaints are historically nonstarters, ending in slaps on the wrist, if anything at all. However, the complaint should scream loudly to Sabatini’s constituents that he doesn’t care about the rules, unless they somehow benefit him. He’s a hyper-conservative firebrand more concerned with stirring the pot than serving his constituents.

The Florida Commission on Ethics might let him off easy. Voters should not.

Written By

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including Florida Politics and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Schorsch is also the publisher of INFLUENCE Magazine. For several years, Peter's blog was ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.

27 Comments

27 Comments

  1. S.B. Anthony

    July 29, 2020 at 11:49 am

    LOL, don’t you know that the rules don’t apply to Republicons?

    • Carolyn D.

      July 29, 2020 at 3:52 pm

      I had a dog and his name was….BINGO!

      • Rajah

        August 2, 2020 at 12:31 pm

        You’re pathetic. The man wants his small business opened, and the congressman is on his side. The only unethical thing here is your scamdemic.

  2. Larry Gillis, Cape Coral

    July 29, 2020 at 12:02 pm

    So, Peter, instead of reporting the story, you are now part of the story itself? (By filing a complaint against whats-his-name)

    Isn’t that, ummm, unethical?I

    Maybe it isn’t, but I’d like to hear you say it. I mean, even journalists have ethics, non?

  3. Andra L Griffin

    July 29, 2020 at 12:16 pm

    So I am unsure how filing lawsuits constitute corruption of public office. I have a legal background and it sounds like you are just trying to get noticed and grandstanding.

    Corruption in the legal context refers to a wrongful design to acquire or cause some pecuniary or other advantage. Corruption may encompass a variety of wrongful acts, such as, among others, bribes, kickbacks, jury tampering, and abuse of public office.

    Some highly publicized corruption involves public officials and law enforcement officers. A 1998 report by the General Accounting Office states, “The most commonly identified pattern of drug-related police corruption involved small groups of officers who protected and assisted each other in criminal activities, rather than the traditional patterns of non-drug-related police corruption that involved just a few isolated individuals or systemic corruption pervading an entire police department or precinct.”

    Public corruption is a breach of the public’s trust by government officials who use their public office to obtain personal gain. It is a violation of federal law for any federal, state, or local government official to ask for or receive anything of value in exchange for, or because of, any official act.

    So as you see your complaint doesn’t hold water and seems like you did it more out of spite than actual knowledge of the law!

    • Anonymous

      July 29, 2020 at 1:52 pm

      I suspect your background is actually paralegal.

    • Carolyn D.

      July 29, 2020 at 3:51 pm

      LOL, you are ALL now constitutional attorneys, right? Sabatini isn’t grandstanding and USING you lemmings at all, right? How much business did this stunt bring him from other sycophants such as yourselves.

      Remember that little issue about government emails, the one you all SCREAMED and whined about? It goes both ways, fools.

    • terry berry

      July 30, 2020 at 10:38 am

      very well put Andra. I think this complaint was done out of spite because HE didn’t agree with Mr Sabatini. It seems the lawless are the ones questioning the law in attempt to distort it while brainwashing the uninformed.

  4. John Wright

    July 29, 2020 at 1:56 pm

    Pete, you’ve exposed yourself to be exactly what patriots and constitutionalists speak of when calling out fake news, biased news.
    You’re unethical and just another Democratic party hack.
    One thing you’re right about is this ethical complaint will go nowhere. It’s petty and childish. Waving around this complaint makes you look ignorant.

    • Ocean Joe

      July 29, 2020 at 8:10 pm

      If you don’t agree with it then it must be fake news or a hoax. We get it. Trump was clever coming up with that. Too bad he decided Covid was a hoax. Too busy to read, too intelligent to listen, always ready to replace the advice of experts with his own gut. Now we pay the price. 150,000 dead Americans.

      For Sabatini to come to south Florida, epicenter of Covid outbreaks to urge folks not to wear masks in the midst of a public emergency is the height of irresponsibility, selfishness and stupidity. There is nothing “patriotic” about it. But you’re right, sending an ethics complaint to Republican Tallahassee about one of it’s members is pointless.

      • jon

        August 1, 2020 at 5:30 pm

        If you can’t figure out what is really going on with Covid, and that the body count is complete fabrication, then you are cute little child!

  5. Rebecca Boettcher

    July 29, 2020 at 8:51 pm

    Thank you. Endangering others and encouraging others to endanger others by not wearing masks is not a Representative. We thank you for bring his actions to light so voters will be aware.

  6. Ami

    July 29, 2020 at 9:34 pm

    Sabatini is apparently comfortable in blackface, yet masks to protect the health of others, is too annoying.

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  11. Tallahassee Observer

    July 30, 2020 at 3:03 pm

    Is there anything in the press release indicating that Sabatini actually wrote it, approved of it, or in any way held himself out being responsible for what was stated or that he was advocating for the position stated, in his official capacity? Looks to me like the author of the press release simply put Mr. Sabatini’s official contact information at the bottom, rather than Sabatini’s law office contact information.

    Is there something else that you are relying on here other than just this press release from the company and the owner of it which were impacted?

    Doesn’t seem like much of an ethics complaint here, at all ….

    • Anonymous

      August 1, 2020 at 12:53 pm

      Sabatini tweeted it.

  12. Vicki Sparrow

    July 31, 2020 at 7:08 am

    What a pathetic story. It certain exposes you as the left leaning, America-hating individual that you are.

    • Feed as a Bird

      July 31, 2020 at 6:11 pm

      Ah yes, wearing a mask to avoid spreading a deadly virus that has killed 150,000 Americans is is America-hating. Being an irresponsible idiot and infecting others is very American, right? Next time you’re coughing, make sure that other than a covid-19 test you also get your brain checked. Although they might find you don’t have one.

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Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch

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