Florida’s Republican In Name Only establishment has attacked an ally of Gun Owners of America after the group lobbied a lawmaker in support of constitutional carry. The Republican National Hispanic Assembly (RNHA) of Florida is being attacked by GOP 1st District State Representative Michelle Salzman for exposing the party establishment’s own hypocrisy in its stance on permitless carry in the Sunshine State.
GOA is a no-compromise organization that stands for liberty and protecting our Second Amendment rights and will not sit idly by while one of our own is threatened by those who refuse to stand up for the issues they say they support.
The RNHA publicly came to GOA’s aid when we called out Rep. Cord Byrd for killing constitutional carry last year. Additionally, they have made it clear where they stand on constitutional carry and House Bill 103 this session.
The following video was recorded during a public meeting between the RNHA and Rep. Salzman at the capitol. RNHA members were there to lobby in support of a range of issues. When the conversation turned to the constitutional carry bill currently in the House, it became clear that Rep. Salzman serves her political masters first and is more committed to implementing their agenda that she is to Second Amendment rights.
In the video, Rep. Salzman clearly states that the Republican leadership won’t bring the constitutional carry bill up for a vote because the leadership pushed the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Safety Act, a gun control bill passed after the Parkland shooting in 2018. After claiming that “we all friggin’ want” constitutional carry, she said that now “isn’t the right time” and that “as a professional courtesy,” she won’t go against the leadership that’s been killing constitutional carry in the state.
Threats and Bullying
Rep. Salzman wasn’t happy when she found out that the meeting was recorded. She was so unhappy, in fact, that she’s threatened to open a criminal investigation.
As a former law enforcement officer, I expect Rep. Salzman has a steep hill to climb if she intends to do that. There was no criminal intent on the party that recorded and the recording was made in a public space as part of a public meeting.
Under State Statute 934.03, Florida law makes an exception for in-person communications when the parties do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the conversation, such as when they are engaged in conversation in a public place where they might reasonably be overheard.
Furthermore, a public meeting has no expectation of privacy and Floridians are permitted to use sound or video recording devices, so long as the recording does not disrupt the meeting.
The RNHA’s meeting was a public event. They met with Rep. Salzman at the capitol (a public building) as a large group of politically educated and active Floridians to address matters pertaining to the public interest. The meeting itself took place in a communal conference room where the doors were wide open and anyone walking by could enter or overhear the conversation while standing in the hallway.
From an article by the Epoch Times . . .
[RNHA member Emily Nunez] said she became aware of the threats being levied against [RNHA Florida chairman Santiago] Avila and other members of the group the day after the video was posted online.
“Someone from the capitol called and was very irate with our state chairman, Santiago Avila, Jr. and she has since been sending him threatening text messages, wanting to know who recorded the video,” Nunez explained. “My name was never released as being the one who recorded the video. But now that she’s actually making threats, she won’t stop, and she’s saying she wants to press charges against the one who did it. So, I am just going to go ahead and identify myself so she will leave our organization alone.”
Avila said he initially apologized to Salzman for the video. But then Salzman’s legislative assistant called him.
“She was very rude and somewhat disrespectful, demanding certain things,” Avila said. “So, I asked her to send me an email requesting what she wanted, and she sent me an email saying, ‘I want a list of everyone that came to that meeting and the name of the person who recorded the video.’ I said, I can’t just give something like that up without going to my board because we have bylaws in our organization. That happened on the 12. On the 14th, I get a voicemail from Salzman telling me Capitol Police is on their way to her office and she’s filing a report, she has the state attorney on speed dial and that I won’t be back to the capitol.”
Copies of those emails are on the Epoch Times site.
Circling the Wagons
Rep. Salzman’s attack against the RNHA is vile and reeks of a corrupt party establishment that’s trying to circle the wagons. The fact that Rep. Salzman’s office has threatened the RNHA, including Capitol Police involvement and prosecution, is unquestioningly wrong. She has attempted to bully the RNHA because the video airs the truth about where Florida’s Republican legislative leadership really stands on the matter of constitutional carry.
Additionally, word in the capitol is that the RNHA is now being blacklisted and will not be heard in any committee meeting when legislation is being discussed and public comments can take place.
If the RNHA is being blacklisted, that’s damning on many levels and reminds me of what my family experienced in Cuba, where a person can be labeled as a political dissident and made an “unperson,” silenced from all public interactions with their community and government.
When contact by a reporter, Rep. Salzman denied threatening anyone . . .
“As you can see, [Avila] is trying to rally up support over something that was a simple voicemail request to hand over the name of the persons in attendance of the meeting as requested by law enforcement,” Salzman wrote further. “I have not threatened anyone with anything. I was TRYING to keep him out of the conversation with the Capitol Police because I honestly thought he [w]as a decent guy. Obviously, I was wrong. Have a great day.”
Watch the video and read the communications from Rep. Salzman’s office, then judge for yourself.
Luis Valdes is the Florida Director of Gun Owners of America.