‘Have some manners’: Wilton Simpson doubles down on Joseph Ladapo admonishment

joseph ladapo
Ladapo continues to face backlash after refusing to wear a mask while meeting with a Senator battling cancer.

Senate President Wilton Simpson on Wednesday stood behind his public rebuke of Florida Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo, saying “(H)e should have some manners.”

Simpson did not say whether the Florida Senate would confirm Ladapo, Gov. Ron DeSantis’s choice to run the Florida Department of Health. Lawmakers are expected to vote on that confirmation in the upcoming Session that begins in January. But Simpson said his initial reaction to a now nationally debated gaffe is fair.

“We don’t have a mask mandate in the Florida Senate or a vaccine mandate or anything else,” Simpson told Florida Politics. “But what I said was, ‘(Y)ou are going to treat senators with respect.’

Florida Politics first reported that Sen. Tina Polksy asked Ladapo and two Department of Health staffers to leave her office last week because they refused to abide by her request to wear masks. Ladapo requested to meet with Polsky, who last week publicly disclosed that she has stage 1 breast cancer.

Polsky told Ladapo that she had a “serious medical condition” and asked that the Surgeon General nominee put on a mask. Nevertheless, Ladapo and his assistants refused to comply with Polksy’s requests. After a back and forth exchange in which Ladapo offered to meet with the Senator outdoors, Polksy asked them to leave, which they agreed to do.

But Polsky said before going, Ladapo remarked, “Sometimes I try to reason with unreasonable people for fun.”

Weesam Khoury, a Department of Health spokesperson, confirmed the meeting and the statement, but said that “the comment referenced was not said to Senator Polskey (sic).”

Like DeSantis, Ladapo is a vocal opponent of mask mandates, government shutdowns, and vaccine mandates.

In a Sept. 16 opinion article for The Wall Street Journal, Ladapo decried “a zealous pursuit of public mask-wearing,” which he said, “has had, at best, a modest effect on viral transmissions.”

DeSantis’ September announcement that Ladapo would succeed former state Surgeon General Scott Rivkees caused a stir among Democrats, which was heightened the following day after Ladapo signed an emergency order leaving it up to parents to decide whether their children should wear masks in schools, and whether to quarantine after exposure to the virus.

Simpson, though, is the first high-ranking Florida Republican to admonish Ladapo.

Meanwhile, Senate Democrats turned to social media to call on the upper chamber to deny Ladapo’s confirmation during the upcoming 2022 Legislative Session.

The story has made national headlines and Ladapo has since issued a statement explaining his behavior.

But Simpson, who was in Orlando attending the Florida Chamber of Commerce annual conference and two-day Future of Florida Forum, doesn’t seem impressed.

“I thought some of the comments were disrespectful, whether Sen. Polsky had cancer or not. But the fact she has cancer, that clearly would lead to a compromised immune system. And the good doctor knows that. He should have some manners,” Simpson said.

Christine Jordan Sexton

Tallahassee-based health care reporter who focuses on health care policy and the politics behind it. Medicaid, health insurance, workers’ compensation, and business and professional regulation are just a few of the things that keep me busy.


  • Lamarre Notargiacomo

    October 28, 2021 at 10:53 am

    It’s all smoke and mirrors! Wilton Simpson is apparently ignorant of the science of which Ladapo is fully aware as is demagogue Faux Fauci – “masks will not prevent the spread of the virus!” and on March 8, 2020, Fauci said, “There’s no reason to be walking around with a mask.” “The CoVID-19 pandemic is about viral transmission. Surgical and cloth masks do nothing to prevent viral transmission. We should all realize by now that face masks have never been shown to prevent or protect against viral transmission. Which is exactly why they have never been recommended for use during the seasonal flu outbreak, epidemics, or previous pandemics.” (Dr. Jim Meehan), MD. Mr. Simpson, your true colors are showing – yellow-bellied! Stop appointing democrats to key committee positions and caving to their every whim. I hope and pray that Dr. Ladapo does not cave to pressure to apologize when he did nothing wrong. Mr. Simpson, Show some loyalty to the REPUBLICANS who elected you – stop attacking our extremely well qualified DOCTOR Ladapo, and be true to our party platform!

  • Harold Finch

    October 28, 2021 at 11:15 am

    Totally agree with the Senator!!!

  • Jimmy Conner

    October 28, 2021 at 2:52 pm

    The Senate President is a racist just like Polsky.
    She met in very close proximity with white democrats earlier the same day maskless but made the black man leave her office. She treated a black man with a different standard than white people. That’s clearly the definition of racism. Shame on Senate President Simpson for defending this racist Senator.

  • Victoria Olson

    October 31, 2021 at 10:57 pm

    How interesting the remarks about mask wearing is is not effective , once again spreading dangerous propaganda. if this true WHY do Doctors & staff wear masks in operating rooms? So if DeSantis Wife’s Doctor Has to do a procedure on her, will he tell the Dr. Not to wear a mask because they are not effective? The stupidity of our governor & surgeon general is purely political and dangerous to the public.

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