Nikki Fried forced to answer for Matt Gaetz association — again

Nikki Fried
‘The things that he spews — going after women on abortion issues, supporting and insurrectionist — this is not the person I knew when he was here in the Legislature.’

Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried has unfriended U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz.

In the run-up to next week’s Primary Election Day, the Agriculture Commissioner and Democratic candidate to challenge Gov. Ron DeSantis’ re-election has again come under fire for her past connections to the far-right Panhandle Republican, a staunch defender of President Donald Trump currently under investigation for violating federal sex trafficking laws.

Their link has been reported for more than a year, but with one week to go in a tightening Primary against U.S. Rep. and former Gov. Charlie Crist, Crist is questioning her associates after Fried hammered Crist for his history as a Republican.

During a campaign stop on the first day of her bus tour, Fried was asked whether she is still friends with Gaetz. She said no.

“I’m speechless because he has turned into a direction that is dangerous for our country,” Fried told reporters. “The things that he spews — going after women on abortion issues, supporting an insurrectionist — this is not the person I knew when he was here in the Legislature, and I’m disappointed that he’s become a character, and unfortunately, he’s very dangerous.”

It’s not the first time Fried has answered for her association with Gaetz, which began when they worked together on medical marijuana legislation back when Gaetz was in the Legislature and Fried was a cannabis lobbyist. During a Northeast Florida campaign stop last month, Fried called the criticism of their fraternity “chauvinistic” critiques mired in sexist preconceptions.

From reports the two “hung out” at the Trump Hotel in Washington to tales of them being friends during their association supporting medical cannabis — an issue Gaetz took lead on — the narrative suggests an abiding political friendship of some significance.

Their bond is so tight, Business Insider noted at the time, that Fried was the first to text Gaetz to ask if he was OK in the wake of the Capitol attacks from rogue Donald Trump supporters in January.

Fried attempted to qualify that as a general concern for the congressional delegation, but other than Gaetz, few told reporters they’d heard from Fried.

During the Democratic gubernatorial debate last month, Crist scrutinized Fried’s 2017 donation to Republican Ashley Moody, who is now a member of the Florida Cabinet alongside Fried as Attorney General. In her cabinet post, Moody has defended DeSantis’ executive orders and bill signatures in court, including the state’s 15-week abortion ban.

In passing during her campaign speech, Fried made sure to note Florida also needs a new Attorney General.


A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics contributed to this report.

Renzo Downey

Renzo Downey covers state government for Florida Politics. After graduating from Northwestern University in 2019, Renzo began his reporting career in the Lone Star State, covering state government for the Austin American-Statesman. Shoot Renzo an email at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.


  • Joe Corsin

    August 16, 2022 at 10:16 pm

    – Vote RED for forced birth of meth babies and crack babies
    – Vote RED for grifting, propaganda, and lies
    – Vote RED for wealth and income inequality the likes of which the world has never seen
    – Vote RED for zero economic mobility
    – Vote RED for crooks and charlatans like Rick Scott and Donald Trump
    – Vote RED for right wing police state

  • Elliott Offen

    August 16, 2022 at 10:38 pm

    Whatever happened to PIZZA GAETZ’S child sex case? Hell.. whatever happened to Donald Trump’s sex cases? What happened to all Trump’s supporters sex cases!!!!!!!!!!😆

  • Impeach Biden

    August 17, 2022 at 8:15 am

    Looking forward to Aug 23. That will be the end of Nikki Fried. Crist will win next week and be the sacrificial democrat sent to lose bigly to DeSantis.

    • Joe Corsin

      August 17, 2022 at 9:47 am

      Bigly? Didn’t the orange con man make that word up? Not too late to donate to him so his fat azz can buy more caviar. Of course because he’s politically impotent and radioactive waste it will be just because you love the silly SOB… silly crook. What’s with all the Satan worship?

    • Tommy Donuts

      August 22, 2022 at 11:53 am

      Fascism must never take root in Florida. That is who DeSantis is. I will vote for Fried or Crist in November depending, of course, who wins tomorrow. This whole Gaetz thing is a non-issue as far as I am concerned.
      The entire race should be focused on the preservation and promotion of democracy. DeSantis is evil. He is without merit, without honor, and without any respect for democracy. He must be neutralized.

  • Just a comment

    August 17, 2022 at 3:40 pm

    Blue Wave ,red wave hmm let’s have a quick wave .Go Oreo’s

  • Fawn O'Shannigan

    August 19, 2022 at 10:50 am

    Unless she specifically promotes something he’s done, I don’t really see the issue here. Politicians are supposed to find ways to bring multiple sides of an issue together so that some sort of way forward can be achieved. Maintaining professional relationships with people you disagree with, politically, is a positive trait.

    Gaetz is garbage, but he’s also an elected official, and until he’s jailed or otherwise loses his house seat, the governor of a state has to have a reasonably cordial relationship with all our representatives and senators.

    The whole premise of this piece is nonsense.

  • Kiley

    August 19, 2022 at 12:47 pm

    So is Nikki Fried a republican in democrat clothing?

  • Sonny Lee

    August 22, 2022 at 7:02 pm

    The fact that she worked with him is NOT wrong. Her saying that today’s Gaetz is a departure from the man she once knew is a LIE. Her saying that she texted all FL legistators in the aftermath of January 6 is a LIE. Nicole Fried lies out of habit because all she cares about is winning.

Comments are closed.


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