Rep. Joe Harding resigns after being indicted on fraud charges

MARION COUNTY, Fla. — Rep. Joe Harding, the Central Florida lawmaker who sponsored the controversial law critics called “Don’t Say Gay,” announced his resignation on Facebook a day after being indicted on charges of defrauding a federal coronavirus loan program for small businesses.


“Regarding the current legal matter, I cannot comment on the details of my case,” Harding wrote in the Facebook post. “There will be a time when I can tell my story in detail, and I will. For now, let me reassure my constituents and the taxpayers that I repaid every penny of the loan I obtained, and I have done my best to cooperate fully with all authorities. That is all I will say for now, and I will communicate any additional details of my legal matter through my attorney.”

READ: ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Florida lawmaker indicted on fraud charges

Read his full statement in the post below:

READ: Sponsor of Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law accused of COVID-19 loan fraud

Harding was elected in 2019 when he decided to run for the Florida House.

Federal prosecutors said Harding, 35, illegally obtained or tried to obtain more than $150,000 from the Small Business Administration in pandemic aid loans. He is being charged with two counts of wire fraud, two counts of money laundering and two counts of making false statements.

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Harding, a Republican, became nationally know this year over his sponsorship of a law that forbids instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade, as well as material that is not deemed age-appropriate.

A trial is scheduled for Jan. 11.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Adam Poulisse, WFTV.com

Adam Poulisse joined WFTV in November 2019.