Florida Republican state Rep. Joe Harding, the asshole behind the state's "Don't Say Gay" law, is facing numerous federal charges for pandemic business loan fraud.
The Florida legislator who sponsored legislation critics dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay" bill was accused of illegally obtaining tens of thousands of dollars in Covid-relief funds, authorities said Wednesday.
Joseph Harding, 35, was indicted on six counts of wire fraud, money laundering, making false statements and other crimes, the U.S. attorney’s office for Northern Florida said in a release.
Harding, a Republican whose district is south of Gainesville, is accused of seeking Covid-relief loans from the Small Business Administration in 2020 for two companies, Vak Shack Inc. and Harding Farms, according to the indictment.
The indictment alleges that in applications to the agency, Harding said the companies had half a dozen employees and gross revenues from the previous year totaling more than $800,000.
The companies had no employees, and state records showed they had been dormant in the months before the applications were filed, the indictment says.
Harding sought more than $150,000 in loans and received roughly $45,000 in January and February 2021, according to the indictment.
Harding pleaded not guilty to the charges in court Wednesday, court records show. Neither he nor his lawyer immediately responded to requests for comment.
Which is really funny, because after he embezzled tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars, he had the balls to go after Broward County businesses that got pandemic relief funds in March.
The news about Broward County’s new coronavirus aid-funded hotel had one Representative Thursday calling for Broward County to be shut out of future member funding projects — and had some of his Republican colleagues nodding in agreement.
“Maybe the FL Legislature should ban all member projects for Broward since they have so much money they can make ridiculous expenditures such as this,” Republican Rep. Blaise Ingoglia wrote. He quote tweeted a national Associated Press story that highlighted Broward County’s hotel and the $140 million in federal coronavirus aid it received in the first paragraph.
But at least one Broward County Senator called the Spring Hill lawmaker’s framing of the aid “complete misinformation.”
“His treatment is so emblematic of how we are treated in this Legislature,” said Democratic Sen. Tina Polsky, explaining the “we” as lawmakers from Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties. Those counties send more tax money to Tallahassee than they receive, she said.
“The hostility … it’s so palpable and it’s frustrating,” Polsky added.
Besides the “high-end,” 29-story, 800-room hotel that will go with the county’s expanded Convention Center, the story also detailed other projects around the U.S. that the American Rescue Plan helped fund. Those include a minor-league baseball stadium renovation, a ski area and an effort to woo the 2026 World Cup to New Jersey.
Reached later, Ingoglia said, “I’m sick and tired of local governments spending lavishly and egregiously and yet still crying poor and asking the Florida Legislature for money and continuing to raise taxes on people locally,” he said.
Republican Rep. Joe Harding responded with a meme, “I’m in.”
You'll have plenty of time to think up funny memes in prison, Joe.
Next time, keep your damn mouth shut, and keep your hands out of the cookie jar.