A candidate for the Florida Senate is making a confusing claim for gay and lesbian adoption rights while enlisting agents associated with the hate group Proud Boys.
That candidate is Jason Brodeur, a former state representative, who Equality Florida Action Pac calls an “anti-LGBT extremist.” The state’s largest LGBT political action committee is zeroing in on Brodeur’s 2015 sponsorship of a bill that, if approved, would have allowed adoption agencies funded by Florida to discriminate against gay and lesbian couples.
Surprisingly, in ads, Brodeur says he “fought to let same-sex couples adopt and give more kids the chance to find a forever home.”
“Now he’s LYING,” tweeted Florida Representative Carlos G. Smith, adding, “this is why people despise politicians.”
Brodeur told the Orlando Sentinel EqFL is distorting his record to “fit their narrative,” noting he sponsored a bill that removed a statewide ban on gay adoptions.
Joe Saunders, EqFL senior political director, disagrees and announced the PAC would be investing $125,000 to defeat Brodeur.
"This is a historic investment in accountability,” said Saunders, who served in the House with Brodeur. “He’s running in a district that’s Democratic-leaning, and what he wants people to believe is that he’s a middle-of-the-road kind of guy. But the truth is that he’s one of the most extreme members of the Florida Legislature and one of the most anti-gay.”
Brodeur, 45, a Republican businessman is campaigning for the open District 9 seat, which consists of Seminole County and parts of Volusia County. His opponent, Democrat Patricia Sigman, 53, a labor and employment attorney, is endorsed by Equality Florida.
As of the most recent campaign finance filings, Brodeur had raised $860,655.31 compared to $395,395.63 for Sigman.
Brodeur’s association with alt-right blogger Jacob Engels is also drawing heat. It has been reported Brodeur has funneled $37,000 to Engels, who is gay and has participated in multiple events with the Proud Boys. Engels has been banned from Facebook and Twitter.
“The people of District 9 deserve to know what ‘campaign strategy’ Jason Brodeur was trying to execute when he paid a member of the Proud Boys $37,000,” stated Anders Croy, communications director for Florida Senate Democrats, in a news release. “It is shameful that Jason Brodeur would line the pockets of a white nationalist, but it’s not surprising considering he is such a big supporter of Donald Trump. While Patricia Sigman is running to bring people together to create positive change in their communities, Jason Brodeur is actively funding someone in a racist hate group that is carrying out violence on behalf of Donald Trump nationwide.”
After this story was published Engels contacted SFGN asking for an opportunity to respond.
"Over the past few years, I have investigated the Proud Boys to determine if the allegations made against the group were true. After embedding with the group, it has become clear that they are a multi-racial organization and LGBT accepting group, which is led by Enrique Tarrio, the Afro-Cuban son of Cuban exiles. Unlike antifa, Proud Boys aren't burning down cities like Portland or Kenosha. For Anders Croy, who has refused to condemn Antifa's domestic terrorist activities across America, to lecture a multi-racial group as white supremacists is despicable," Engels wrote. "Does Mr. Croy think he determines whether or not Enrique Tarrio is a man of color like Democrat presidential nominee Joe Biden thinks that "you aint black," if you are an African-American considering casting your vote for Trump? As for Ms. Sigman, she has failed to denounce domestic terrorist activity from Antifa and instead decides to attack this gay journalist and an Afro-Cuban led organization because her campaign is crumbling quicker than Joe Biden's."
The Southern Poverty Law Center describes the Proud Boys as a hate group.
"Their disavowals of bigotry are belied by their actions: rank-and-file Proud Boys and leaders regularly spout white nationalist memes and maintain affiliations with known extremists. They are known for anti-Muslim and misogynistic rhetoric. Proud Boys have appeared alongside other hate groups at extremist gatherings like the 'Unite the Right' rally in Charlottesville," the SPLC website reads.
Unlike the Florida House of Representatives, the Florida Senate is more competitive in terms of party representation. Republicans hold a 23-17 advantage. The District 9 seat became open due to David Simmons, the senate president pro tempore, being term-limited.