Florida Governor Rick Scott (R-FL), who is challenging Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) for a Sunshine State Senate seat, is the latest Republican facing questions over ties to a Proud Boys protest near Miami last week.
Nelson Diaz, the chairman of Miami-Dade County’s Republican Party, reportedly planned a demonstration with the far-right hate group that forced Capitol Police to lock down an event in Coral Gables with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).
After initially claiming he had nothing to do with organizing the protest, Diaz was forced to apologize when emails emerged showing his involvement.
In addition to leading Miami’s Republican Party, Diaz is also on Florida’s Children and Youth Cabinet, which aims to ensure that “all children in Florida grow up safe.”
Only five of the 21 members of the youth cabinet were appointed by Scott. Diaz is one of them. Scott’s office did not immediately respond when asked by ThinkProgress if Diaz’s involvement in planning a protest with a hate group was consistent with the values of the organization to which the governor had appointed him.
Diaz also served as the Chief Legislative Aide for Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) when he was Speaker of Florida’s House of Representatives, per Diaz’s biography on the Southern Strategy Group’s website.
ThinkProgress reported on Saturday that a former employee of Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) was also part of the Proud Boys’ protest. Curbelo claimed his ex-Field Director and Director of Constituent Services “was never a senior aide” during a debate on Sunday. After receiving additional tips, ThinkProgress reported on Tuesday that an aide and “dear friend” of former Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL), who is the Republican gubernatorial candidate in Florida, was also palling around with the far-right hate group at last week’s demonstration.
Multiple members of the Proud Boys have been arrested following a brawl in the streets of Manhattan earlier this month. The violence occurred after a speech by Gavin McInnes, the founder of the far-right hate group who had been invited to address the Metropolitan Republican Club.
The Proud Boys, whose name was inspired by a song from Aladdin, have an initiation process that involves screaming the name of breakfast cereals while being beaten and eschewing masturbation, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.