Florida GOP Representative Joseph Harding, beloved by the far-right for architecting Florida's anti-LGBTQ "Parental Rights in Education" bill (aka the "Don't Say Gay Bill'), has further endeared himself to Republicans by getting criminally indicted by the Justice Department for wire fraud, money laundering, and making false statements in an attempt to defraud the Small Business Administration to obtain Covid relief funds. Nothing like committing fraud to own the libs!
From the U.S. Attorney's Office:
A federal grand jury has returned a six-count indictment against Joseph Harding, 35, of Williston, Florida. The indictment was announced by Jason R. Coody, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida.
The Indictment alleges that between December 1, 2020, and March 1, 2021, Harding committed two acts of wire fraud by participating in a scheme to defraud the Small Business Administration (SBA) and for obtaining coronavirus-related small business loans by means of materially false and fraudulent pretenses, representations, and promises, and for the purpose of executing such scheme, caused wire communications to be transmitted in interstate commerce. The Indictment alleges that Harding made and caused to be made false and fraudulent SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) applications, and made false representations in supporting loan documentation, in the names of dormant business entities, submitted to the SBA. The Indictment further alleges that Harding obtained fraudulently created bank statements for one of the dormant business entities which were used as supporting documentation for one of his fraudulent EIDL loan applications. By this conduct, the indictment alleges that Harding fraudulently obtained and attempted to obtain more than $150,000 in funds from the SBA to which he was not entitled. Harding is also charged with two counts of engaging in monetary transactions with funds derived from unlawful activity related to his transfer of the fraudulently obtained EIDL proceeds into two bank accounts, and two counts of making false statements to the SBA.
A trial on the matter is scheduled for early January, prosecutors said. If found guilty, Harding faces a maximum possible sentence of 20 years on the wire fraud charges; 10 years on the money laundering allegations; and five years in prison for allegedly making false statements.
In 2022, Harding sponsored Florida's so-called "Don't Say Gay" Bill, which is officially called the "Parental Rights in Education" bill. The legislation, which went into effect in July, bans instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation through third grade, and contains vague language about how such matters can be taught in higher grades.
Harding is probably salivating over the money his worshipful dupes will fork over when he sets up his defense fund.