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North Miami Beach Mayor Anthony F. DeFillipoEXPAND
North Miami Beach Mayor Anthony F. DeFillipo
City of North Miami Beach / Facebook

Five Times South Florida Politicians Absolutely Stepped in It on Facebook

Last week, New Times reported on a brouhaha stirred by a recent Facebook post from Pembroke Pines Commissioner Jay Schwartz, who has been accused of racist dog-whistling for writing, seemingly out of the blue, that "Dade County politics" are not needed in Pembroke Pines. Schwartz denies any such intent, but critics — including his fellow commissioner and Pembroke Pines mayoral hopeful Angelo Castillo — say denouncements of Miami-Dade politics are common in Broward County circles and amount to little more than coded anti-Latinx language.

As far as Facebook fiascoes go, Schwartz's post is small potatoes compared to some of the more memorable foot-in-mouth social media moments by South Florida politicians. Read on for a Sunday's worth of Schadenfreude, but be warned, some of these might make you cringe.

1. North Beach Miami Mayor Tony DeFillipo accused Haitian lawmakers of nepotism in a seemingly racist post, adding to his already impressive record of bad social media posts:

On May 23, the other members of the city commission, including three Haitian-American politicians, voted to censure DeFillipo after he wrote on Facebook that he believed North Miami Beach had fired its former city clerk so the city's Haitian lawmakers could "put in a person of there [sic] own heritage and do what they want!!!...

DeFillipo eventually apologized at the May commission meeting. ("If there is any comment about heritage, I apologize wholeheartedly," he said to Commissioner McKenzie Fleurimond, who is Haitian-American.) But the mayor also launched veiled insults at other commissioners minutes later, and his colleagues ultimately decided a formal reprimand was in order.


2. In just a few weeks, Israeli-born Hallandale Beach Commissioner Annabelle Lima-Taub barraged a sitting congresswoman with Islamophobic slurs and signal-boosted a far-right website with ties to the Pizzagate conspiracy:

Earlier this month, Israeli-born Hallandale Beach Commissioner Anabelle Lima-Taub called Rashida Tlaib, one of America's first two Muslim congresswomen, a "Hamas-loving anti-Semite" who might someday "become a martyr and blow up Capitol Hill.” Lima-Taub was then widely condemned, even by the Anti-Defamation League.

But the commissioner won't back down. Instead she's latched onto an obscure, far-right website called Halsey News. In posts to her personal and official Facebook pages, Lima-Taub linked to one of the website's articles, which questioned the motives of a critic — fellow Hallandale Beach Commissioner Michele Lazarow — who had called for Lima-Taub's censure. "Alas, some truth!" Lima-Taub wrote.


3. Florida City Vice Mayor Sharon Butler says she has no idea how a post alleging the U.S. government orchestrated the murder of five Dallas police officers ended up on her Facebook page:

"The government killed those cops," she wrote, at least according to the image. "And they're trying to get you to blame the BLM [Black Lives Matter] movement so that we can be further DIVIDED. DO NOT BE PLAYED FOR A FOOL." The post then goes on for a number of stanzas.

But when New Times asked Butler why she shared the post, she claimed she had "no idea" what we were talking about and then insinuated someone either hacked her account or photoshopped the words under her name maliciously.


4. Pembroke Pines Commissioner Angelo Castillo joked about his "difficult decision" to not undergo gender reassignment surgery:

Pembroke Pines City Commissioner Angelo Castillo is not just a local politician who quibbles about zoning issues — he's also a biting satirist, right up there with Voltaire, Jonathan Swift, and Jon Stewart. That's why he would like you to know that he will not alter his gender and plans on remaining a cisgendered male, despite what he calls the “conventional wisdom, trends, and styles.”

“Staying a guy is not an easy choice to make but in reaching this difficult decision I hope all of you will understand that I really think this is the best choice I can make for me,” Castillo, whose day job is director of strategic planning and research at the Broward Sheriff's Office, wrote on Facebook last week.


5. North Beach Miami Mayor Tony DeFillipo (yes, he's back) showed his glaring internet illiteracy by posting a fake Islamophobic news story:

Last week, a ludicrously fake story about the Supreme Court abolishing the teaching of Islam in public schools began spreading across conservative so-called news sites... The dubious validity of the story was apparent even to a few savvy, disappointed commenters on Conservative World Daily. Alas, the same can't be said for North Miami Beach Councilman Anthony DeFillipo, who yesterday excitedly posted the article to his Facebook page and repeatedly insisted it was "Fact!!" even after dozens of his constituents pointed out it was literally a made-up story.

"Here comes the sun!" DeFillipo wrote above a link to the story on a totally legit-sounding site called donaldtrumpnews.co. "America grew balls again! #USA the integrity of this nation shall never be compromised!!!"

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