Republican Lawmaker Behind “Don’t Say Gay” Bill Pleads Guilty To Fraud Charges

Posted March 22, 2023 by with 2 comments

photo via Gage Skidmore/Wikipedia Commons

Another disgraced, hypocritical, and bigoted Republican criminal who’s now a convicted felon. I’m sure you’re absolutely shocked. This one—whose picture should appear in the dictionary next to the word “douchebag”—is a former state lawmaker from the Florida (of course) House of Representatives named Joseph Harding, and he happens to be the ghoul who authored Florida’s homophobic “Don’t Say Gay” law. Harding pleaded guilty today to multiple fraud and money laundering charges after swindling over $150,000 from the federal government’s COVID relief program, and he now faces up to 35 years in prison. Again, just your standard Republican “moral” crusader. Via NPR:

Joseph Harding entered a guilty plea on Tuesday in federal court in the Northern District of Florida to one count of wire fraud, one count of money laundering and one count of making false statements, according to court records.

Harding faces up to 35 years in prison, including a maximum of 20 years on the wire fraud charge. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for July 25 at the federal courthouse in Gainesville.

In December, a federal grand jury returned an indictment against Harding, 35, who was accused of lying on his applications to the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, which gave out loans to businesses impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. He resigned from Florida’s House of Representatives one day later.

Harding fraudulently obtained more than $150,000 from the Small Business Administration, portions of which he transferred to a bank and used to make a credit card payment, prosecutors said.


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