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Florida State Legislator Charged With Defrauding Pandemic Assistance Program

Rep. Joe Harding of Florida was charged by federal authorities on Wednesday for defrauding a financial aid program to obtain loans for firms that had already failed years earlier.

The Florida parental rights bill, sometimes known as the “Don’t Say Gay” statute, was written by Republican Mr. Harding. Mr. Harding was charged with wire fraud, money laundering, and making false statements by a grand jury.

Mr. Harding was placed under bond after entering a not guilty plea to all six charges.


He allegedly requested for $150,000 in pandemic loans from the Small Business Administration, according to the prosecution.

According to Mr. Harding, the Vak Shack Inc., one of the companies, had a gross sales of more than $420,000 and four employees the year before the epidemic. He stated that Harding Farms LLC, the other company, generated revenue of $392,000.

Prosecutors alleged that both companies had been inactive since 2017. Earlier this year, Mr. Harding’s regulation dictating how gender identification is treated in schools caused a national sensation.

In compliance with state requirements, schools are not allowed to discuss sexual orientation or sexual identity in kindergarten through third grade or in any other grade in a way that is “not age-appropriate or developmentally suitable.”

He told the Florida media that he was troubled by what seemed to be schools’ significant concentration on the matter, particularly on encouraging pupils to consider their identity as distinct from their sex at birth.


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