Florida lawmaker behind 'Don't Say Gay' charged with fraud


Joseph Harding is accused of COVID relief fraud. He was released on bond Wednesday.

WILLISTON, Fla. — A federal grand jury indicted State Rep. Joseph Harding (R-FL-22), 35, on six-counts related to COVID relief fund fraud. 

Harding lives in Williston, Florida and represents a district near Ocala. He co-sponsored the Parental Rights in Education law, dubbed ‘Don’t Say Gay,’ which bans classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade. 

He is accused of wire fraud, money laundering and making false statements, according to a press release from the United States Attorney’s Office Northern District of Florida. 

Federal investigators accused him of obtaining COVID-19 related loans on false pretenses, by using the names of closed businesses. The indictment says he obtained and attempted to obtain more than $150,000 in funds. 

Harding has pleaded not guilty. 

Harding’s trial is scheduled for Jan. 11 in Gainesville, Florida.

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