A well-known Florida state representative who helped write the Parental Rights in Education Act, ludicrously labeled by the left and mainstream media as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, was indicted by a grand jury on charges pertaining to fraud, especially in regard to alleged improper use of COVID-19 relief funds.
State Rep. Joseph Harding (R), 35, faces a total of six different charges, including wire fraud, money laundering, and making false statements, per a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Florida.
Punishments one could face for such crimes include 20 years in prison for wire fraud, 10 years for money laundering, and five years for making false statements.
The Florida representative has resigned from his position since the indictment:
Harding has pleaded not guilty to every charge and is set to begin his trial on Jan. 11.
“By this conduct, the indictment alleges that Harding fraudulently obtained and attempted to obtain more than $150,000 in funds from the SBA to which he was not entitled,” stated a press release from the U.S. attorney’s office.
“The investigation was jointly conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) Office of Inspector General, and the Small Business Administration (SBA) Office of Inspector General,” it continued.
Many people who oppose Harding shared the news on social media, often highlighting his support of the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” legislation.
“Republican state Rep. Joseph Harding, author of the controversial parental rights in education, also known as the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ legislation, has resigned from the Florida Legislature a day after he was indicted on wire fraud, money laundering, and making false statement charges,” wrote one user.
“By the way, Harding (R) sponsored the #DontSayGay that discriminates against #LGBTQIA children!” wrote another.
— Bradford County Democrats (@BradfordDemsFL) December 9, 2022
The press release stressed that the indictment is “merely an allegation” and thus not evidence of guilt.
“All defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial, during which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt,” concluded the release.