Newly elected Lee County GOP Chair Michael Thompson wasted no time declaring war on the Republican Party of Florida, led by Sen. Joe Gruters.
Just 48 hours after being elected by a one-vote margin on the third ballot of a bitterly contested contest, Thompson appointed Anthony Sabatini — a disgraced former state Representative who failed his feeble attempt at higher office and consistently makes a mockery of Florida, and the GOP — as the General Legal Counsel for the Lee County Republican Executive Committee.
Sabatini, it’s worth noting, is a former New York Democrat who previously did legal work for convicted sex trafficker Joel Greenberg.
Sabatini served four years in the Florida House and recently lost a congressional primary to Corey Mills. He has gained a statewide following for his blistering attacks on all levels of Republican leadership, including Gov. Ron DeSantis, former Speaker Chris Sprowls, and current Speaker Paul Renner.
To make matters worse, Sabatini was caught on video last year speaking to a Republican Club and called then Senate President and now Commissioner of Agriculture-elect Wilton Simpson a “liberal.” He blasted Rep. Thad Altman as a “cuck” and described Rep. Randy Fine as “evil.” Don’t believe it? The video is still live.
His frequent absences earned him the nickname “Absentini” during his last Legislative Session, largely skipping his legislative duties to attend fundraisers in D.C. to bolster his congressional bid.
Sabatini’s association with Greenberg has been well documented by the Orlando Sentinel. Greenberg served as Tax Collector in Seminole County before flaming out in a spectacular series of scandals including sex trafficking, stealing more than $400,000 in taxpayer dollars, using the state’s driver license database to obtain the names of minors he later exploited for sex, creating fake social media accounts to slander his political opponents, and impersonating a law enforcement officer. Greenberg was indicted on 33 criminal counts and was recently sentenced to 11 years in federal prison.
During his brief tenure in office, Greenberg hired a number of his friends to lavish jobs, including Sabatini to provide legal services. There is no documentation Sabatini ever produced any legal work.
It is unclear exactly what legal work Sabatini will do for the Lee County GOP, but his association with Thompson preceeds his appointment. Thompson and Sabatini are part of the “America First” movement that is working to take control of grassroots political parties at the county level.
This is Thompson’s first official act as chair, and it’s a catastrophic one that warrants immediate attention.
For Thompson to tap someone for a leadership position within the county party apparatus who has a blemished political career, known affiliation with nefarious actors and who consistently undermines key figures in Florida GOP politics is not only wrong-headed, it’s dangerous.
With this appointment, Thompson further shows that he is lining up against a successful party leadership structure that led Florida to a historic 20-point re-election for DeSantis and ushered in a Republican supermajority in both chambers of the Legislature.
Sabatini is clearly the wrong man for the job, and it looks like perhaps Thompson is too.