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Harding removed from committee assignments following indictment

Photo courtesy Joe Harding for State Representative Campaign

BY JENNIFER CABRERA

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida House Speaker Paul Renner released a written statement today regarding the federal indictment of Representative Joe Harding: “After consultation with Representative Harding regarding his indictment, I am temporarily removing him from his committee assignments to allow him time to focus on this matter. In America we adhere to the rule of law, and as such, Representative Harding is presumed innocent and will have the opportunity to plead his case before a court. Since the indictment does not relate to any aspect of his legislative duties, any further questions should be directed to his legal counsel.”

Harding, a businessman who has worked in commercial construction, was elected to the legislature in 2020 and re-elected in 2022. He is originally from Williston but now lists Ocala as his residence. Harding sponsored Florida’s Parental Rights in Education bill that prohibits classroom instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity in kindergarten through 3rd grade, prohibits instruction that is not age-appropriate for students, and requires school districts to adopt procedures for notifying parents if there is a change in services from the school regarding a child’s mental, emotional, or physical health or well-being.

Harding has not responded to a request for comment from Alachua Chronicle, but he posted the following statement on his campaign’s Facebook page: “Today, I pleaded not guilty to federal charges that state I improperly obtained and used an EIDL loan issued by the Small Business Administration. I want the public and my constituents to know that I fully repaid the loan and cooperated with investigators as requested.

“On advice from counsel, I will be unable to say anything more specific about the legal proceedings until a later date and refer any questions or concerns related to this matter to my attorney. I ask that you keep me and my family in your prayers as we work for a fair and just resolution. Thank you, and may God bless you.”

Rep. Chuck Clemons told Alachua Chronicle, “I am shocked hearing the news about these indictments. Representative Harding will have his day in court just like every other citizen who has been accused of wrongdoing. I trust the judicial system will weigh the evidence and adjudicate accordingly.”

  • but Sam Bankman-Fried / ftx can steal billions and crickets!
    mr harding is on the wrong team.

    • This does seem like yet another example of the demise of equal justice under the law.
      Here’s hoping for true justice in this case, and a revival of justice in our once great nation…

  • Rest assured, *political* federal indictments are mostly done for headlines, only to later be dismissed by the court. The DOJ uses its office for election interference more than actual justice, these days.
    The opposite is true with non-political federal indictments, like we see in recent local federal court cases. I just wish our local criminal courts and DA were as serious.

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