Florida Agriculture Commissioner candidate Nikki Fried says she won't be 'beholden' to the NRA


  • Screen grab via Nikki Fried/Twitter
Nikki Fried, a Democrat running for the state's Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services, has a problem with the National Rifle Association's vise grip on elected officials in Florida.

Following a report from the Tampa Bay Times last week that brought to light emails exchanged between gun lobbyist Marion Hammer and officials within the agriculture commissioner's office, Fried sent a letter to Hammer, a former NRA president. In it Fried writes, "I won't be beholden to you."

According to the Times report, which accessed hundreds of Hammer's emails with the department through a public records request, Hammer apparently has a serious amount of clout within the agriculture commissioner's office, in that her demands are rarely met with a resounding "no" and she's made a habit of reaching out with complaints at all hours of the day – not to mention on weekends and holidays, too.

Hammer, however, defended the ongoing dialogue between her and the department by suggesting that officials appreciate her honesty, and as a result, make a habit of speedy replies.

In other words, officials are scared to death of Hammer.

But that makes sense, as reports from the Times and the New Yorker have previously detailed. In 2014, Hammer played a part in deciding which counties would participate with county tax collectors to accept concealed weapons applications – and that's not even taking into account how Hammer played a major role in pushing controversial gun laws, such as the "stand your ground" defense, through the state Legislature.

You can read more about Hammer's history with the agriculture commissioner's office here, via the Times.
As for Fried, she's a gun owner herself. In the letter, she emphasizes her nonpartisan take on the issue.

"For the past eight years the NRA has run Florida's Department of Agriculture," she writes. "That ends on Nov. 6." 

In the video, Fried notes that her opponent, state Rep. Matt Caldwell, was given an "A-plus" rating by the NRA, as well as received the organization's endorsement. She also mentions how Caldwell voted against the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act earlier this year.

Stay on top of Orlando news and views. Sign up for our weekly Headlines newsletter.

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 protected].

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club for as little as $5 a month.