SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. — The war of words between the Seminole County tax collector and his critics over anti-Muslim posts over the weekend continued on social media Tuesday when a state representative candidate claimed he threatened her.
Several groups on Monday called on Seminole County Tax Collector Joel Greenberg to resign after he posted a controversial Facebook status about Muslims.
Democrats from Orange and Seminole counties and members of Central Florida's Muslim community described Greenberg's remarks as the latest in a pattern of disturbing behavior.
"Seminole County Tax Collector Joel Greenberg's inflammatory remarks amplify and validate hateful propaganda and must be condemned," said Imam Abdurrah Mansykes, of the Islamic Society Leading American Muslims. "Hate-mongering propaganda is beneath the position of a public servant and is beneath humanity."
Protesters cited other controversies since Greenberg's election. During a traffic stop in January, a Lake Mary police body-worn camera recorded Greenberg asserting his position as tax collector while asking for a warning.
"It is clear that Joel Greenberg is not capable of filling his elected duties," said Paul Truman, president of Young Democrats of Seminole County.
Greenberg, who is Jewish, is also facing criticism from other people of the Jewish faith.
Ben Friedman, of the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando, said Greenberg's comments are inappropriate.
"I think he should engage more with communities of all kinds," Friedman said. "I think there is a vibrant Muslim community in Seminole County who would be more than happy to sit down with him and be part of a broader conversation."
Greenberg released the following statement Monday: "I'm not known to be politically correct. I did not mean to offend anyone."
The fallout and the war of words continued Tuesday when a Democratic state representative candidate in Orange County claimed Greenberg was threatening her.
Forty-seventh District candidate Anna Eskamani said she asked Greenberg on Twitter Tuesday if he would resign. Greenberg replied with, “Never. As a matter of fact, I will be donating $200,000 to your opponent.”
Eskamni replied with, “Is that before or after you resign.”
Greenberg then tweeted back with, “You truly are a novice. You mistake excitement for intelligence. Now, it’s $250,000. Each time you talk it goes up another 25 grand.
Eskamani said not only did Greenberg threaten an Iranian-American woman on Twitter, but he attempted to use campaign cash as hush money to silence her.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott is the only person who has the authority to remove Greenberg from office.
"The governor does not agree with this statement," Scott's spokesman said Monday of Greenberg's Facebook post.
The chair of the Republican Party of Seminole County said Monday that the Republican Party has a history of inclusion, but she said the party is not responsible for the actions of Republican officials, and their opinions do not necessarily represent those of the party.
Greenberg told Channel 9 on Monday that he will not resign.
The Seminole County Sheriff's Office said that Greenberg has requested additional off-duty deputy details at four of his office locations, which will cost about $6,400 per week. Greenberg's office will pay for the extra security.
Cox Media Group