Florida Candidate’s Campaign Fires Staffer for Offensive Social-Media Comments

September 30, 2018 Updated: October 5, 2018

Florida gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum, a Democrat, has terminated his youth outreach director after a blogger dug up a number of offensive social-media posts by the former staffer. One of the posts, from more than a year ago, called for the execution of President Donald Trump.

Manny Orozco-Ballestas, 24, had only been working for the campaign for a week when conservative blogger Jacob Engels brought up a May 2017 Instagram photo where Orozco-Ballestas posed in a t-shirt that labeled as “dumb[expletive]stan” the states that went for Trump in the 2016 election. The states that went for Hillary Clinton were labeled the United States of America.

“Because only those who voted for Hillary Clinton should be considered Americans,” Engels commented.

The Republican Party of Florida called on Gillum to fire Orozco-Ballestas.

“It is hypocritical for Gillum to endorse the same kind of hateful, intolerant speech that he likes to denounce,” the party stated, as the Tampa Bay Times reported.

That wasn’t enough for the Gillum campaign to turn on the staffer though.

“The anti-Trump shirt he wore before he was hired wasn’t funny or in any way related to our campaign and we’ve addressed that with him,” Gillum campaign spokeswoman Carlie Waibel said.

Orozco-Ballestas appears to have deleted his Twitter account after the incident, but on Sept. 29, Engels published another article saying he obtained the deleted tweets from an anonymous source. Engels posted screenshots of six tweets from 2012 where Orozco-Ballestas made offensive, sexually explicit remarks. One tweet suggested fantasizing about a sexual assault and appeared to be targeted at a specific man or a woman.

Another tweet, from 2013, stated, “@realDonaldTrump you need to be executed,” using the handle of Trump’s official account.

That proved too much for the Gillum campaign, and Orozco-Ballestas was terminated the same day. The Gillum campaign didn’t respond to a request for comment.

The Epoch Times couldn’t independently verify the authenticity of the tweets, but on Sept. 29, Orozco-Ballestas released a statement of apology for his past Twitter activity.

“I am embarrassed, angry, and disappointed in myself,” he wrote. “What I tweeted as an immature student many years ago is not a reflection of the man I am today.”

Before joining the Gillum campaign, Orozco-Ballestas held the same post in the gubernatorial campaign of Philip Levine, who lost to Gillum in the Aug. 28 Democratic primary.

In the general election, Gillum faces former Rep. Ron DeSantis, an ex-Navy JAG prosecutor who resigned his congressional seat to run for governor. Trump endorsed DeSantis in an Aug. 27 tweet.

Follow Petr on Twitter: @petrsvab
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