The revelation comes amid growing concerns about the spate of conspiracy theories and “false flag” attacks surrounding recent mass shootings — especially in Florida — that are surfacing on right-wing and fringe media sites. The videos were initially posted at the tail end of the bare-knuckle 2012 campaign when Israel defeated Republican incumbent Al Lamberti.
Now living in New York, the woman said she was 17 at the time and didn’t know Israel when an unknown person paid her $25 per video through the website www.fiverr.com, where she was hired by different companies to cut “thousands” of video testimonials for various products ranging from cell phone plans to diet programs. She expressed shock when informed Israel was sheriff and that the videos have become part of a smear campaign after the shooting.
Sheriff Israel ... was targeted in a Feb. 19 Gateway Pundit piece that promoted one of the phony videos in a story headlined “Broward County Sheriff Accused of Having Affair With 17-Year-Old Girl, Forcing Her to Get Abortion.”
The article, which referenced but didn’t link to a rebuttal video from Israel’s wife, explained that the “video was unearthed as Sheriff Israel has began [sic] using his position to lobby for Democratic policies in the wake of last week’s deadly school shooting.”
The story linked to the phony videos was largely ignored by the mainstream news media. But it took off on Twitter. Nearly all of the videos’ roughly 129,000 page views happened after the shooting. Of the 560 comments cumulatively attached to the three YouTube videos, only 12 were made before the shooting.
Amy Rose, Israel’s campaign manager in 2012 and 2016, said Israel and his staff were surprised at the return of the videos and the volume of vitriol in the comments on YouTube. She said they tried to have the videos removed in 2012, when they were pseudonymously posted by a "Barry Israel" in late October 2012.
"Now that these bogus, fake videos have been debunked we would ask that YouTube comply with our previous request (going back to 2012) and take them down!” she said in a written statement to POLITICO. “It's too bad that the young woman who was paid to repeat these lies can't identify the person who paid her to do so."
We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Orlando Weekly. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Orlando Weekly, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.
Email us at email@example.com.
Orlando Weekly works for you, and your support is essential.
Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Central Florida.
Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.
Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Orlando’s true free press free.