‘Putting politics before everything else’: Kelli Stargel’s daughter speaks out against mother’s congressional run in viral TikTok
TALLAHASSEE, FLA. 3/09/22-Senate Appropriations Chair Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, studies paperwork prior to the Budget Conference Committee, Wednesday night at the Capitol in Tallahassee. COLIN HACKLEY PHOTO

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'I remember growing up, my dad's campaigns were like "faith and family first," but then they would leave us for Tallahassee for a month.'

A daughter of state Sen. Kelli Stargel is speaking out against her mother’s congressional run — and it’s drawn the attention of thousands.

In a TikTok clip that has now garnered over 64,000 views, Stargel’s daughter, Hannah, recounts what she considers hypocrisies between her parents’ political facade promoting conservative, family-first policy and their relationship with their own children.

“After numerous years of telling me I was hard to love, putting me through tons of years of neglect, putting politics before everything else, and honestly, just being a horrible, horrible person to look up to — is this really somebody you want up in D.C. passing laws for you and your children, telling you what to do with your body?” Hannah Stargel said in the TikTok.

Hannah told Florida Politics that she decided to speak out after her mother announced her congressional run, which came after years of promising to step away from politics, Hannah said. She called her mother’s candidacy for Florida’s 15th Congressional District “a shock.”

“She’s been saying for years and years and years that she was going to stop running, stop putting this on the family,” Hannah said. “So for her to take that and go federal … I don’t speak to her anymore. But for her to do that, I was really upset honestly.”

Her parents’ involvement in politics put a strain on the family, she said. Her father, John Stargel, served in the Florida House from 2002-2006, while her mother, Kelli, entered the ring in 2008.

Growing up, Hannah Stargel remembers feeling weird about her picture plastered on billboards in her parents’ political advertisements, and seeing her face on pamphlets held by strangers. She said that while her parents campaigned on faith and family values, she and her siblings felt cast aside when their parents left to go to Tallahassee for Legislative Sessions.

“I remember growing up my dad’s campaigns were like ‘faith and family first,’ but then they would leave us for Tallahassee for a month,” Hannah said. “I would stay at friends’ houses all the time. It was very common for us to just stay at a friend’s house for like almost a month, and it was just like a part of that childhood that was not fair to us, in my opinion.”

While Hannah told Florida Politics that the two never agreed on policy matters, Hannah stopped communicating with her mother after the Senator championed the controversial transgender sports measure passed in the 2021 Session that barred trans students from participating in sports with their identifying gender. Hannah had come out to her mother as a member of the LGBTQ community just three months earlier.

“I had actually just come out to my mom a few months earlier,” Hannah said. “She was really shocked by it, she brought me home like some rainbow chocolates, like just as a peace offering. Then fast forward three months.”

In her TikTok, Hannah talks about being sent to a religion-based troubled teen facility in Texas. She told Florida Politics she was sent to the program after experiencing emotional challenges following a car accident that left her wheelchair-bound for a year. She was 15 at the time. She added that, as a non-Christian, it felt like some sort of “conversion therapy.”

“Considering the fact that Kelli Stargel is my mother, and sent me to a troubled teen facility when I was only 15, I don’t think that she really has a right to tell you or anybody else who can and can’t be a mother, because she wasn’t even a mother to her own children,” Hannah said in the TikTok video.

Hannah also alleged in a TikTok that her mother did not make an effort to feed her when she chose not to go to church on Sunday. Her parents, she said, attended a church where she felt bullied and unsafe, and as a non-Christian, chose to not attend the services. The trade-off, she said, would be food, since the family would go out to eat and leave her behind in a food-barren house, kept so because her parents were often in Tallahassee.

“The way that they would trade off was they would all go out to eat and go eat well. We ate out all the time. That was mainly how we ate,” Hannah said. “There wasn’t really a lot of other options. So a lot of it was more emotional. I was not like legit starving, it was mainly just for that day. They would wake up in the morning, there wasn’t really food. They would all go to church. I would kind of have to like scramble for something.”

In response to her daughter’s TikTok, Sen. Stargel released a short statement saying, “I love my daughter with all of my heart.”

Despite their challenges, Hannah said, “I think my mom still loves me, but the way that they show love is very much through their filter.”

It’s not the first time one of Stargel’s children has spoken out against the Lakeland Senator.

Back in 2021, Kelli’s daughter Laura was a vocal opponent of the transgender sports bill, publicly urging Gov. Ron DeSantis to veto the legislation. She wrote an op-ed for the Orlando Sentinel speaking out against the bill.

Kelly Hayes

Kelly Hayes studied journalism and political science at the University of Florida. Kelly was born and raised in Tampa Bay. A recent graduate, she enjoys government and legal reporting. She has experience covering the Florida Legislature as well as local government, and is a proud Alligator alum. You can reach Kelly at [email protected]


27 comments

  • Brandon

    May 23, 2022 at 4:56 pm

    I am reminded of the song, Dirty Laundry. Here is what I just read and I don’t even live in that part of Florida:

    We can do the innuendo
    We can dance and sing
    When it’s said and done
    We haven’t told you a thing
    We all know that crap is king
    Give us dirty laundry

  • Julia

    May 23, 2022 at 10:01 pm

    What has happened to Peter Schorsch that he would publish something like this? Shame on you.

    • Peter Schorsch

      May 24, 2022 at 6:22 am

      I believe it is an extraordinarily fair report. We didn’t just write about the video, as the Orlando Sentinel did. We contacted both Sen. Stargel and her daughter in an attempt to understand the context for the video. When not one, but two of a candidate’s children publicly urge voters to not support their parent, that is news. I am sorry to have disappointed you.

      • Julia

        May 24, 2022 at 7:44 am

        Give me a break! I know for a fact that you have refused to run stories about other political figures that had much more substance to them. Peter, you’ve become a Lincoln Project hack.

        • Julia

          May 24, 2022 at 7:53 am

          You didnt even tell us how old these daughters are. Are they minors? It appears that one may be, in which case even more shame on you.

      • Mike

        May 24, 2022 at 5:38 pm

        Why no mention of ages and positions in life today. Do they still live at home? If so it’s interesting that room and board don’t mean much.

        • Laura

          May 24, 2022 at 11:46 pm

          I agree with Peter that it is a fair report. I have not made many comments on the situation, but this is a fair account. None of the Stargel children are minors. I am the youngest at 25 (my dad took office when I was 6) and Hannah is 28. We both moved out at 18 after high school and are not financially supported by our parents.

          • Julia

            May 25, 2022 at 8:36 am

            If this true, you and your sister really should be expelled from the family for something like this. I dont care what you think your mother did to you—not enough food, really?—it is demonstrative of a lack of class and character that is, alas, all too common of your generation.

  • Amber Lang

    May 24, 2022 at 4:17 am

    Honestly this breaks my heart because I know the Stargels and have from the time their chindren were very young. They don’t deserve this and the amount of twisting and lies in these assertions is tragic. They’ve never claimed to be perfect people, but have worked hard to be loving, engaged, and supportive with all their children while also fighting for causes they believe in. This just isn’t fair or true and there is a much larger other side of the story that will probably never be publicly aired simply because Kelli Stargel does love her children and puts their best interest before politics. This Amory is very disappointing!

    • Amber Lang

      May 24, 2022 at 4:18 am

      This story is very disappointing.

    • Lisa Anderson

      May 24, 2022 at 1:37 pm

      I find it interesting you wrote “… while fighting for causes they believe in.” “THEY”? I thought elected officials are supposed to do the bidding of their constituents, even if it goes against their “moral standards.”

      • Joyce Hostler

        June 3, 2022 at 4:46 pm

        Excellent point! I think the girls deserve accolades for their bravery in coming forward.
        Find it difficult to believe that a person with Kelli’s limited education and experience had such an influence over education and finances in this state

  • Charlotte Greenbarg

    May 24, 2022 at 8:15 am

    This young woman is obviously seriously disturbed. To publish this is an affront to journalism. “There wasn’t really food”. Seriously?

  • STFUbiotch

    May 24, 2022 at 10:14 am

    What an ungrateful little brat. Funny, I sure remember seeing dear, sweet Hannah in Tallahassee right along with her parents. Hmmm. Think maybe she CHOSE to stay home with friends because SHE didn’t want to go?? And, awe, bless her fragile little heart. She had to “scramble” for something to eat. She was old enough to stay home by herself, her lazy ass is old enough to find herself something to eat. I mean, look at the girl, she’s certainly not starving. Only a totally selfish POS would betray her own mother like this.

    • Bob Gernert

      May 24, 2022 at 11:29 am

      You won’t win any awards for integrity hiding behind your hate-filled comments with a thinly veiled obscene acronym.

    • Lisa Anderson

      May 24, 2022 at 2:46 pm

      Ahhh, when you have nothing else, you body shame. “Great” was to be an adult. Shame on you.

  • PeterH

    May 24, 2022 at 3:14 pm

    Today’s fake conservative double talk is truly staggering. Today’s young people are champions for exposing the fraud!

    In 2020 Kelly Ann Conjob’s daughter threatened to sue her parents if they refused to behave like normal “family value” parents! Trump’s presidential adviser eventually quit to save her family.

    Family’s are divided and it has a lot to do with spin and the ‘fake news’ drumbeat from Breitbart, Stormfront and Fox ‘News’

    • Julia

      May 24, 2022 at 3:45 pm

      What is staggering is that you believe it was ok for Peter Schorsch to run this story, anymore than it was right for the media to validate Kelly Ann Conways minor daughter. There is child abuse going on here and its not by Kelli Stargell.

  • Kelly

    May 24, 2022 at 6:26 pm

    This article gives me hope! Hope in future generations in finally being HONEST- calling out hypocrisy and family members that are bigots yet hide behind “family values”! I’m ready for transparency in society!

  • T Martin

    May 25, 2022 at 6:47 am

    This entire article is written from the prospective of someone who has never been a parent, never had children, never stood for something bigger than yourself. In my house we serve God, and the rules I set are those that I believe God desires and commands. I don’t ask my children if they approve. I explain why it is so, and I pray that my children will support my sacrifices but my rules are not open to negotiations. Happy to discuss my beliefs with my children but it is non negotiable

  • Hi Mom

    May 25, 2022 at 12:12 pm

    Extra, extra! Read all about it! Rebellious child disagrees with their parent!

  • Alan Pearce

    May 26, 2022 at 7:23 am

    This sounds more like a spoiled, entitled brat who didn’t get her way. Just like the rest of her loser friends. I feel bad for Kelli that her daughters don’t realize the privilege from which they spew their appropriated vitriol.

  • Soloman

    May 26, 2022 at 8:37 am

    A semi literate, uneducated, community collage drop out has spent 14 years fighting the culture wars in Tallahassee positioning herself as a right wing champion of Christian family values. She supports legislation to tell other parents how to raise their own children yet she herself is a failure as a parent. She failed in her attempt to implant Christian values within her own children. She failed as a mother because two of her adult children repudiate her, do not have a relationship with her, and have publicly exposed her obsession with obraining political power at the expense of her own family. Her own children have exposed their mothers hypocrisy. Because she is an abject failure as a parent, she is wholly unqualified to legislate to others on how to raise their own children.

    Kelli, spend the time and energy to fix your family life. Political power is not worth the cost of your family. Remember Kelli, all power and glory is fleeting. How will you answer God when He asks you why the pursuit of political power was more important than your children?

    Kelli, look at the responses of your supporters here. Their Christian witness is lacking and their own hypocrisy is on full display. They attack your own children while defending you politically. They personally attack and insult your own flesh and blood because to them, a political victory is the end all be all of their lives. And you sit quietly and allow them to do it. They care not if your family is permanently divided as it does not affect them personally. They rejoice in their attacks on your daughter’s. They believe they are doing God’s work by defending you. They believe that accumulating earthly political power to be more important than a Christian witness that leads non believers to God. Your family is nothing but pawns on the chessboard in their pursuit of political power.

    At the end of the day, we all grow old. Ask yourself if the pursuit of political power was worth the trade off of being alone as you age. Was it worth permanently dividing your own family just to obtain temporary earthly political power? Is it worth it for your own adult children to disavow their own mother? Is it worth it to watch your supporters attack your children and drive a further wedge between you and your daughters? Have you lost sight of the forrest for the trees?

    Fixing the severe disfunction in your own family should be your top priority. What good does it do a person to gain the whole world but lose their family? I was always taught that the order was God, family, then country. Yours seems to be political power, self, country, God, then family. I may not be a Senator, but I raised my children to adulthood and I maintain good relationships with each of my adult children. I may have forsaken the pursuit of political power but I did so for the benefit of my children. Reexamine the choices you have made in life that has led you to this point of the complete breakdown and disfunction of your family.

    Your pursuit of political power at the expense of your family is nothing more than chasing the wind. As a Christian, you should be familiar with the Book of Ecclesiastes. “Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.” Ecclesiastes 2:11.

    This is terribly sad that the dysfunctional family dynamics are being played out in public but that is the choice you made Kelli when you decided that obtaining political power was the most important thing in your life. So important that you were willing to sacrifice your own children and family to obtain it. This too is chasing the wind.

    When the day comes that your time in politics ends, I hope that the destruction of your family was worth the gain in political power. While others rejoice today in your disfunction, the day will come when you realize that the pursuit of political power was meaningless and chasing the wind.

    • Ouch

      May 26, 2022 at 10:08 pm

      Wow Soloman – Perhaps a community collEge degree could have served you well? Even spell check? I had a hard time following your judgy words. As a Christian parent also, I wholeheartedly disagree with your ultra hateful comments. Kelli has sacrificed so much so that she could make a DIFFERENCE in this world! If she doesn’t do it, who will? Probably not you, since you’re at home nursing your good relationship with your children. I don’t think it has anything to do with political power for Kelli, it has everything to do with making a difference that impacts ALL families. All of her passed bills have centered families and helping Florida’s families. And shame on her 2 daughters for publicly berating their own mother. I’d be interested in what the other children have to say, although they probably aren’t willing to stoop to the level of their woke, ungrateful siblings. “We ate out all the time” does it for me. What an insult to children who are ACTUALLY suffering from neglect.

  • Jan

    May 27, 2022 at 1:07 am

    This kid sounds like an entitled, whiny little brat. Shame on her.

  • Josh B

    May 27, 2022 at 5:46 am

    a clear cut case of the kids having caught the disease of liberalism..I hope they find a cure.
    It’s encouraging that there are so many comments on here opposing the leftist garbage.

    • Tim

      June 2, 2022 at 6:21 pm

      Totally agree. The disease of liberalism is a terrible one. And it’s being transmitted in our schools, especially colleges. The Stargels’ youngest was a vocal supporter of her mother on the campaign trail, on the Senate floor, you name it, she was there. Then she went to college. BAM. A raging Liberal.

Comments are closed.


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