Ron DeSantis slams Karla Hernández for ‘protecting’ sex offender, which campaign calls ‘lies’
Ron DeSantis accuses Karla Hernández-Mats; Charlie Crist says he is lying.

DeSantis Hernandez_Mats
The Republican Governor called the link ‘disqualifying,’ but the union couldn’t pull his membership.

Gov. Ron DeSantis is faulting U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist’s running mate, Karla Hernández, for her ties to a former member of her teachers union who is serving jail time for sexually assaulting students — an association the Crist campaign says Hernández had no control over.

DeSantis appears to have been attuned to Republican criticism over the weekend of the new No. 2 on the Democratic ticket challenging him in November. During a news conference in Fort Pierce on Tuesday, the Governor pilloried Hernández for her relation to Wendell Nibbs, a former Brownsville Middle School P.E. teacher who pleaded guilty to child sex charges in 2020. At the time of his arrest, he was a member of the United Teachers of Dade (UTD), of which Hernández is president.

Although allegations against Nibbs date back to 2004 and included rape accusations, the investigation against him didn’t begin until 2015, the year before Hernández was first elected union president. DeSantis referred to Nibbs as “one of their top union henchmen,” likely referring to his status as a building steward elected by his fellow teachers.

“Everybody knew this was going on, and her union protected him knowing that he represented a threat to those students in middle school classrooms,” DeSantis told reporters. “He abused and he abused and he abused, and he finally got caught and he’s finally in prison.”

“They cared more about the power of their union than they did about the best interests of these kids,” he continued. “That is disgraceful. You do not put union politics ahead of middle school students who are in danger of being sexually abused. I think that’s disqualifying to be in any political office, much less Lieutenant Governor of the state of Florida.”

The Crist campaign is dismissing the characterization that Hernández or UTD protected Nibbs and linked DeSantis to U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Fort Walton Beach Republican who is under investigation for underage sex trafficking. Gaetz served on DeSantis’ transition team and reportedly helped him earn President Donald Trump’s endorsement in 2018.

“It’s a lie. And to top it off, it’s coming from a Governor whose own campaign was led by accused child sexual predator Matt Gaetz, and whose disgusting actions DeSantis still refuses to condemn,” said the Crist campaign’s Communications Director, Samantha Ramirez.

“While Ron DeSantis shields sexual predators in his own party, Karla Hernández is a former special needs teacher who has devoted her life to serving the people of her community.”

Florida is a right to work state, meaning the state constitution guarantees an employee’s right to join or not join a union. UTD is not allowed to deny membership to anyone who wants it because they are the district’s official collective bargaining group. The Florida Department of Education did not remove Nibbs’ teaching license until 2019, three years after the Miami-Dade County School Board requested the department pull his license, according to NBC 6.

Ahead of the formal announcement of Hernández as Crist’s running mate, the Republican Party of Florida criticized Hernández on multiple fronts, including with a link to a Miami Herald article stating that a union representative accompanied Nibbs through five of his investigations.

Following the news conference in which Crist unveiled his Lieutenant Governor pick, he was asked about the ties between her and Nibbs, which includes Facebook photos of the two posing in front of Brownsville Middle School and the Florida Historic Capitol. According to WPLG, she lobbed the attack back at the Florida GOP for continuing to support Gaetz.

“GOP, (which) is a proud Matt Gaetz supporter, is actually talking to me, or questioning something that I had nothing to do with, when they are the Matt Gaetz party,” she said.

Nibbs was sentenced to eight years in prison plus 10 years of sex offender probation. He has a lifetime designation as a sexual predator.

Hernández’s history as a teacher and president of the nation’s fourth largest local teachers union is a contrast to DeSantis’ education agenda. Nationwide, conservatives and progressives are split on school safety, classroom discussions on sexual orientation and gender identity and how race and privilege should be taught.

DeSantis also criticized Hernández for a past tweet “sympathetic” to former Cuban dictator Fidel Castro and her position in favor of keeping schools closed in 2020.

“She and her Union were more interested in politics than they were in the best interest of these kids,” DeSantis said.

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.


22 comments

  • PeterH

    August 30, 2022 at 2:57 pm

    “I’m shocked Ricky that Florida Republicans are lying and fabricating conspiracy theories!”

    Vote all Republicans out of office!

  • Tom

    August 30, 2022 at 2:58 pm

    This is a very serious situation.
    The facts are overwhelming.
    It’s unfortunate that Matz and others concealed this child abuser.
    Better she withdrawsnow, nothing will save chameleon. Gaetz reference is not comparable. He’s not been charged. Matz should step down. Chameleon is stupid to nominate her.

    • Joe Corsin

      August 30, 2022 at 3:25 pm

      Trump has many sexual assaults. Admitted to this behavior on access Hollywood interview..plus lawsuits settled out of court some detailing infidelity. His first wife filed a police report alleging RAPE. Said she recommended a hair specialist that didn’t do so great so he gave her the salami against her will and ripped patches of her hair out!!!!!

  • Tom

    August 30, 2022 at 2:58 pm

    This is a very serious situation.
    The facts are overwhelming.
    It’s unfortunate that Matz and others concealed this child abuser.
    Better she withdrawsnow, nothing will save chameleon. Gaetz reference is not comparable. He’s not been charged. Matz should step down. Chameleon is stupid to nominate her.

  • Conservative always

    August 30, 2022 at 3:09 pm

    There is a big difference between being “accused” and “convicted and in jail.”

    • Jennifer

      August 30, 2022 at 5:34 pm

      And if I am not mistaken, this teacher was accused and not in jail, right? Why does the gop always make this so easy?

      • Tom

        September 2, 2022 at 6:49 am

        No he’s beff ex n convicted and in jail.
        Where you been Jennifer.
        Matz is terrible choice.

        • Tom

          September 2, 2022 at 6:50 am

          He has been convicted and in jail,

  • Elliott O

    August 30, 2022 at 3:34 pm

    DeSantis is defending biggest sex criminal in Whitehouse history now living at Mar-a-Lago. Also Mar-a-Lago mad man is guilty of election crimes yet DeSantis election police aren’t going in to arrest the SOB. If you are a Republican, you can do anything apparently.

  • steve grabarczyk

    August 30, 2022 at 3:35 pm

    And YOUR LG Nunez LIED to the CRC

  • Tom

    August 30, 2022 at 3:38 pm

    Yes, conservative always.

    The Matz case falls into the convicted and jail. The Gov. made it clear, she and others shielded the abuser.

    Gaetz had been speculated upon, time will tell. If he has done something unlawful, law will rightly apply.

    Chameleon will be held accountable. She is a horrible pick, before this. Now horrendous.

    • Charlie Crist

      August 30, 2022 at 3:48 pm

      Vote Fat Cammack: A conservative with true grits, and bacon, and sausage, and cheese eggs, and pancakes with lots of syrup, and biscuits with gravy…tons of gravy.

      • Hope

        August 30, 2022 at 4:10 pm

        Obsessive compulsive much?

        Your pervertedness is disturbing.

        • Charlie Crist

          August 30, 2022 at 4:57 pm

          Taking about fat is perverted? Gotta figure if you weren’t fat yourself or have admiration for the deplorable GOP then you’d find it all funny. Nothing wrong with humor there frigid prude!!!!

  • Cillary Hlinton

    August 30, 2022 at 4:59 pm

    Yeah I talked to Charlie just the other day on this subject. He was so upset and torn in two different directions. I tried my best to steer his thoughts to the best decision but he went against my better judgement.
    It was like “Cillary should I go with groomer Hernandez or drunken, druggie, perv Gillum?”
    I clearly stated to go with the drunken, druggie, perv because our voters are all kind of like that and our pedo interests in kids is not yet mainstream with our voters.
    I am so disapointed in Charlie. Why he failed to take the advice of his betters I will never understand. Thats it its over we have lost Florida.

  • Tom

    August 30, 2022 at 5:41 pm

    Very serious charges.
    This is a game changer.
    Chameleon must drop her.
    Suburbsn moms/dads are already for Gov.
    City moms will abandon Chameleon.
    Independents are for Gov.
    Bone head selection.

    • Joe Corsin

      August 30, 2022 at 6:32 pm

      You must drop Donald Trump for his crime spree…

  • tom palmer

    August 30, 2022 at 7:13 pm

    Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah

  • Tom

    August 30, 2022 at 9:27 pm

    Truth hurts.
    Facts are funny things.
    Chamleon ticket is a sexual sympathizer, Matz covered up a predator.

  • Beth

    August 31, 2022 at 5:15 pm

    DeSantis needs to take a long look in the mirror.. He has shown nothing but love and affection for sexual predators while systematically destroying the rights of women and girls. He worshipped and fully supported trump who is a traitor and self proclaimed sexual predator. He loves Gaetz who is accused of trafficking young girls. He supported Roy Moore. DeSantis should focus on improving his own behavior and keep his hypocritical mouth shut. Vote the creep out in November.

    • Tom

      September 3, 2022 at 7:39 am

      That’s a lie, you are pathetic.
      Matz is disgusting.
      She is a disaster, abuser protector and clueless on govts.

    • Tom

      September 3, 2022 at 9:38 am

      That’s a lie, you are pathetic.
      Matz is disgusting.
      She is a disaster, abuser protector and clueless on state gov.

      Just a lackey hack to weingarten, nea. She supports and owns poor quality of education.

      Wait til DeSantis/Nunez pin it on her ears!
      Chameleon is a clown.

Comments are closed.


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