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'Don't Say Gay' FL Lawmaker Indicted   12/08 06:13


   TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- The Florida lawmaker who sponsored the 
controversial law critics call "Don't Say Gay" has been indicted on charges of 
defrauding a federal coronavirus loan program for small businesses, officials 
said Wednesday.

   Federal prosecutors said Rep. Joe 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.

   Harding, a Republican, became nationally known 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.

   "I want the public and my constituents to know that I fully repaid the loan 
and cooperated with investigators as requested," Harding said in a written 

   The Republican speaker of the Florida House of Representatives has 
temporarily removed Harding from his committee assignments in the Legislature.

   A trial is scheduled for Jan. 11.

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