The Phoenix Flyer

FL House has yet to take action on ‘vile’ social media posts from a lawmaker

By: - November 22, 2021 4:37 pm

Florida state Rep. Randy Fine. Credit: Florida House of Representatives

In mid-August, an official complaint was filed in the Florida House of Representatives against a Republican lawmaker, for “hateful” and “atrocious” social media comments directed to Palestinians and Muslims.

Civil rights advocates filing the complaint say the House’ Public Integrity and Elections Committee still hasn’t addressed the issue involving state Rep. Randy Fine, a Republican representing part of Brevard County.

The Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Florida), a Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, filed a sworn complaint alleging that Rep. Fine has “violated his duty as an elected official and has disgraced the seat which he holds in the Florida House.”

“We are disappointed about the committee’s failure to act,” Taj Murphy, CAIR-Florida’s lead attorney, said in a written statement Friday. “Their refusal to address Rep. Randy Fine’s violent and bigoted rhetoric amounts to complicity.”

The complaint calls for the committee to “act against this egregious behavior” from Fine. “It is hurtful and abominable enough coming from anyone, but to have an elected official spew this hate, and violence is disturbing and harmful to our state,” the complaint says.

At the time of the original complaint in August, State Rep. Erin Grall was chair of the House Public Integrity & Ethics Committee. Currently, the chair is Daniel Perez, who represents part of Miami-Dade County.

The Florida Phoenix is awaiting a response from the Florida House communications staff regarding the allegations. The civil rights organization told the Phoenix that the complaint was received by the committee.

“We didn’t receive an official response, but they (the committee) told us there is no priority,” Wilfredo Amr Ruiz, the group’s communications director, said in a phone conversation with the Florida Phoenix.

“They have failed to communicate any minimum intention to do it.”

The group has called on the committee to open an investigation into Fine’s conduct on Facebook and Instagram from posts starting in May. The complaint also includes examples of Fine’s social media posts, showing he called Palestinians “animals” and referred to people of Muslim faith as “monsters” and “terrorists.”

For instance, Fine said in a May 26 post on social media that “the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated terrorist group CAIR is trying to silence the one Republican Jew willing to stand up for Israel. Well I have two words for these monsters: Bring it.”

The complaint also stated that: In response to a comment on the same post, Representative Fine called for the annihilation of the Palestinian people by responding, “#BlowThemUp.”

Fine hasn’t responded yet to a request for comment from the Florida Phoenix.

The grievance against Fine was only filed in the House. Ruiz said that he doesn’t know when or if  the committee will take action on the issue. House members have been in committee hearings from September to late November, so it’s not clear why nothing has been done. The House also has committee hearings next week.

CAIR-Florida believes it’s important to release Fine’s allegations to the public to bring about “systemic change” in regard to holding politicians accountable for their actions, Ruiz added.

“It is possible for the politicians to go unchecked,” he said.

Meanwhile, Fine is involved in an ongoing case connected to a restraining order filed against him by Brevard County School Board member Jennifer Jenkins, according to a report from Florida Today.

Jenkins filed a request for an injunction because of allegations in court documents of “cyberstalking” and “harassment” on social media, according to Florida Today.

The newspaper wrote: “Jenkins is asking the court to forbid Fine from publishing her name or ‘any insinuation of person’ on his social media accounts, and from coming within 500 feet of her Satellite Beach home or place of work at Brevard Public Schools.”

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Issac Morgan
Issac Morgan

Issac Morgan is a 2009 graduate of Florida A&M University's School of Journalism, and a proud native of Tallahassee. He has covered city council and community events at the Gadsden County Times, worked as a sports news assistant at the Tallahassee Democrat, a communications specialist for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and as a proofreader at the Florida Law Weekly.