John Thrasher Fact Sheet: Corruption, Racism, Homophobia and Anti-Education Legislation Support

JOHN THRASHER FACT SHEET

1) John Thrasher has supported bills that have cut Florida’s higher education budget: SB 2000 in 2011 which decreased higher education funding by approximately $140 million, and HB 5001 in 2012 which amounted to $300 million in cuts. (SB 2000Thrasher: Y) (HB 5001Thrasher: Y) 

2) The second of the PSAC’s qualifications and characteristics is “high ethical standards, impeccable integrity, sound judgement, and a personal philosophy that is grounded in administrative transparency”. Senator Thrasher’s past actions do not reflect such a record:

  • He was found to have violated two state ethics laws that led to fines and an admonition from the state ethics commission.
    • In 1993, he lobbied for the Florida Medical Association while appearing before the state medical board. State law bans lawmakers from lobbying.
    • In 2001, he was fined for violating ethics laws forbidding former legislators from lobbying lawmakers within two years of leaving office.
  • In 2011, Senator Thrasher signed a secret $124,000 severance package to compensate embattled Florida Republican Party Chairman Jim Greer, who subsequently was imprisoned.
  • In 2012, he introduced a bill (PCB 7170) to allow the secret privatization of prisons and, according to the Associated Press, would have kept “the public in the dark about the costs of outsourcing any government service, not just prisons.”
  • As a legislator who has accepted donations from Koch Industries, he is ill-suited to address the ongoing ethical questions that have surrounded the Koch Foundation’s $1.5 million donation to the FSU Department of Economics.
  • In April 2014, Senator Thrasher supported SB 318, which prevents secret dealings between donors and universities from coming to light. In particular, it would have kept the Koch Foundation’s relationship with FSU hidden from public scrutiny.

3) In 2012, he sponsored an ethics bill (SB 1560) that sought to prohibit educators from running for office, limiting their rights as citizens.

4) He has publicly opposed unions, and in 2011 he introduced SB 830, designed to make collecting union dues substantially more difficult, which specifically targeted two teachers unions by name. In 2010, the Tampa Bay Times quoted him at an education conference saying “There is no way in our state right now that the dagum unions are going to agree with this kind of stuff. So you either bring them to the table and tell them what you’re going to do, or you run over them.” Our next President must be willing to work cooperatively with UFF-FSU and the other campus employee unions.

5) He voted for HB 1205, calling for 10% of each state agency’s employees to be chosen at random every three months and subjected to drug-testing. That bill was declared unconstitutional, but Senator Thrasher’s lack of trust in public university faculty is troubling from someone who aims to lead FSU’s faculty.

6) In 1995, he signed a letter to the Walt Disney Company expressing opposition to what he termed the company’s “anti-family” policy of offering benefits to employees’ same-sex partners, a policy now practiced by two-thirds of Fortune 500 companies, 90 percent of all large employers, and over 140 colleges and universities (including FSU). We are concerned that Senator Thrasher would oppose our current policy. 

7) John Thrasher has consistently supported harsher sentencing policies that feed mass incarceration of African American, Latino and working class youth in the state of Florida. Thrasher accepts political contributions from private prison corporations like CCA and GEO Group. These companies take taxpayer dollars and are repeat human rights violators. Politicians like Thrasher vote to give them more contracts and money.

8) Thrasher’s record of criminalizing African American and Latino communities does not end here. Thrasher supported bringing racist Arizona-style immigration laws to Florida.  His statement on his own site is:  “I am committed to supporting and passing legislation, similar to the Arizona-style immigration reform here in Florida. And, I believe we need to place much more stringent laws on businesses to prevent the hiring and employment of any, and all illegal immigrants.” 

9)  John Thrasher has a history of opposing the interests of African American students in Tallahassee. Earlier this year, Thrasher proposed an amendment at the Florida State Capitol to split the FAMU-FSU Engineering School, treating the historically Black college students at FAMU like second-class citizens.

10) Senator Thrasher is largely responsible for drafting the 2005 “Stand Your Ground” law in Florida which allows citizens to use deadly force without trying to retreat if they feel their lives are in danger.  In the courts this law was used to justify the racist killing of Trayvon Martin.  Thrasher stood against Rick Scott’s proposed changes to the law after the Trayvon Martin shooting and said he didn’t think the change was necessary and voted against the bill.  Standing behind the law and against restrictions he stated: “What we’re saying is we’re putting them in jeopardy even if they’re trying to defend themselves.”

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